Audio captures cruise ship captain’s excuses
By Frances D’emilio January 17, 2012 8:46AM
Updated: February 19, 2012 8:11AM
Five more bodies were found Tuesday from a crippled cruise ship, and a shocking audio emerged in which the ship’s captain was heard making excuses as an Italian coast guard officer repeatedly ordered him to return and oversee his ship’s chaotic evacuation.
Prosecutors have accused Capt. Francesco Schettino of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his ship before all passengers were evacuated for the grounding of the Costa Concordia on Friday night.
The Italian news agency ANSA reported that another five bodies were located Tuesday, raising the confirmed death toll to 11. Before the latest find, 29 people had been unaccounted for.
The Costa Concordia was carrying more than 4,200 people when it hit a reef off the Tuscan island of Giglio when Schettino made an unauthorized deviation from the cruise ship’s programmed course.
Schettino has insisted he stayed aboard until the ship was evacuated, but the recording of his conversation with Italian Coast Guard Capt. Gregorio De Falco indicates he fled before all passengers were off — and then resisted De Falco’s repeated orders to return.
“You go on board and then you will tell me how many people there are. Is that clear?” De Falco shouted in the audio tape.
Schettino resisted, saying the ship was tipping and that it was dark. At the time, he was in a lifeboat and said he was coordinating the rescue from there.
De Falco shouted back: “And so what? You want go home, Schettino? It is dark and you want to go home? Get on that prow of the boat using the pilot ladder and tell me what can be done, how many people there are and what their needs are. Now!”
“You go aboard. It is an order. Don’t make any more excuses. You have declared the abandoning of the ship, now I am in charge,” De Falco shouted.
Schettino was finally heard agreeing to reboard. It is unclear whether he did.