Costa Cruise Captain

January 17, 2012 by staff 

Costa Cruise CaptainCosta Cruise Captain, The Italian operator of the Costa Concordia has today accused the ship’s jailed captain, Francesco Schettino, of causing ship to run aground, saying he made an “unapproved, unauthorised manoeuvre” to divert the vessel from its programmed course.

Earlier, authorities had said 16 people were missing. But Italian coastguard official Marco Brusco said last night that 25 passengers and four crew members were unaccounted for three days after the ship struck a reef and capsized.

He did not explain the increase, but indicated that the missing included 10 Germans and two Americans.

Mr Brusco said there was still “a glimmer of hope” that there could be survivors on parts of the vast cruise liner which have yet to be searched. The last survivor, a crewman who had broken his leg, was rescued on Sunday.

Waters which had remained calm for the first days of the rescue turned choppy yesterday, shifting the wreckage and raising fears that any further movement could cause some of the 500,000 gallons of fuel on board to leak into the waters off Giglio, which are popular with scuba divers and form part of the protected Tuscan archipelago – a sanctuary for dolphins, porpoises and whales.

Rescue operations were suspended for several hours because of the rough seas.

Italy’s environment minister raised the alarm about a potential environmental catastrophe.

“At the moment there haven’t been any fuel leaks, but we have to intervene quickly,” Corrado Clini told RAI state radio.

Even before the accident there had been mounting calls from environmentalists to restrict passage of large ships in the area.

The ship’s operator, Costa Crociere SpA, has enlisted one of the world’s leading salvagers, Smit of Rotterdam, Netherlands, to handle the removal of the 1,000ft cruise liner and extract the fuel safely.

Smit said it will take between two to four weeks to safely remove the oil from the ship.

It said the search operation for the missing 29 people has priority and a survey of the ship must take place before the extraction begins.

However, officials said the two operations can go on in tandem and the fuel extraction operation could begin today, if approved by Italian officials.

The Italian cruise operator said Capt Schettino intentionally strayed from the ship’s authorised course into waters too close to the perilous reef, causing it to crash late on Friday and capsize.

The navigational version of a “fly-by” was apparently made as a favour to the chief waiter who is from Giglio and whose parents live on the island, local media reported.

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