Report By: Nina Rai
Savona, Italy, 24 Jan., 2012:
Daily one or more new skeletons keep tumbling out of the Costa Concordia’s parent company Costa Cruises’ messy cupboard. The latest information is the shocking claim by the Costa Concordia’s disgraced skipper that he navigated the ship very close to the coast because this was the instruction given to him by his bosses.
The transcript of the Italian prosecutors questioning Captain Schettino has now been leaked to the Italian media. The details therein give a new twist to the entire unfortunate saga of the ill-fated Costa Concordia cruise liner.
According to Captain Francesco Schettino the ‘Sail by Salute’ was ‘arranged and wanted’ by Costa Cruises head honchos for publicity purposes. He is understood to have told the investigators that the shipping company was well aware of the standard practice of sailing ship close by islands and that it was done all over the world.
Schettino is also understood to have told prosecutors that his company orchestrated the salutes to coincide with ‘local public holidays.’ These reports are coming against the backdrop of the death toll in the disaster increasing to 15, after rescuers are finding more bodies from the submerged portion of the cruise liner. Two bodies of women were recovered in a submerged section of the ship in the internet café. They are yet to be identified. Around 13 passengers are still not accounted for.
Schettino is now notoriously called ‘Captain Coward’ for causing the shipwreck and abandoning his vessel before all 4,200 passengers was evacuated. It was on Friday night (local Italy time) January 13, that the £400 million cruise ship Costa Concordia ran into reefs and sank off the Tuscan island of Giglio.
The Captain’s new claims are exactly the opposite of those made by Pierluigi Foschi, Costa Cruises boss last week, who had clearly stated that ‘sail by had been authorized just once before’, in summer 2010. Now Schettino’s version of events leading to the disaster raises some pertinent questions about what exactly Costa Cruises knew of that deadly night.
Nearly all those in the know about this catastrophe have asked why it took Schettino one whole hour to give the abandon ship order to passengers. In the light of the latest claims, one can well understand why Schettino waited more than one hour to raise the alarm and the rationale behind the numerous phone calls to Costa Concordia bosses at their head offices.
Meanwhile, Costa Cruises, the parent company of the cruise ship is emphatic that Captain Schettino had ‘lied to them’ about the disaster. According to them it is the captain who had made a ‘serious error of judgment’ by sailing close to the island of Giglio. The ship was barely 350 feet from the shore instead of the mandatory five miles.
In Schettino’s own words: ‘The salute to Giglio was arranged and wanted by Costa before we left … It was for publicity reasons. We have carried out those sail by salutes all over the world.’
Further according to him ‘The sail past Giglio had been advertised in the daily ship news letter…They insisted. They said “We can be seen and we can get some publicity” so I said OK,’ he adds.
Currently Captain Schettino is kept under house arrest. He is facing charges of abandonment of ship, for which alone he faces up to 12 years imprisonment. He is also accused by Italian prosecutors of being responsible for manslaughter.
Source: Daily Mail