'Faulty instruments' on Costa Concordia

2012-07-03 14:07
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Rome - The Italian cruise ship which crashed in January killing 32 people was sailing with its sealed doors open, unapproved maps and faulty instruments, a newspaper reported on Tuesday citing investigators.

Some of the technical apparatus on board the Costa Concordia had been broken since 9 January - four days before the tragedy on the Italian island of Giglio, Corriere della Sera said, citing leaked documents from the inquiry.

The report quoted a response from ship owner Costa Crociere saying that it was not aware the sealed doors were open, that the maps were the captain's responsibility and that the glitches did not stop the ship from sailing.

A court hearing is due on 21 July at which the full results of technical analysis will be revealed. Captain Francesco Schettino and eight others including three executives from Costa Crociere are under investigation.

The giant ship hit rocks off Giglio on the night of 13 January with 4 229 people from dozens of countries on board. Schettino is accused of delaying the evacuation and then abandoning ship before everyone had been rescued.

The black box was also reportedly out of action at the time of the impact, meaning investigators have to rely on a computer that was switched off at 23:36 and may never be able to piece together the exact events of that night.

Costa defends itself

E-mails cited by Corriere della Sera showed the ship had been due in for repairs on its technical instruments after it reached port on 14 January.

"The Vdr [Voyage Data Recorder] has broken down for the umpteenth time... The situation is becoming unbearable," Costa Crociere's technical director Pierfrancesco Ferro is quoted as telling a repair firm in an e-mail.

An officer on board questioned by investigators also reportedly said sealed doors were open at the time of the impact as "this was a practice used during the navigation to ease the flow of people who were at work".

Costa Crociere, Europe's biggest cruise operator, defended itself against the charges telling Corriere della Sera: "The black box signalled only an error code which absolutely did not mean that the Vdr apparatus was not working."

"There is no law or international convention that means that in a situation like this the ship could not sail."

It also said that ensuring the ship was equipped with all the maps required for its route was Schettino's responsibility after a cartographer questioned by investigators said that digital maps on board were not authorised.

"The ship should have never sailed so close to the coast," the company said.

Read more on:    costa  |  francesco schettino  |  italy  |  maritime  |  cruise liner disaster
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