Captain blamed for cruise ship mishap

Captain blamed for cruise ship mishap

Captain blamed for cruise ship mishap

Rescue divers approach the Italian cruise liner to rescue missing people. The Rescue operation was temporarily suspended due to weather conditions as of yesterday. AP photo

The captain of a cruise liner that ran aground and capsized off the Tuscan coast in Italy faced accusations from authorities and passengers that he abandoned ship before everyone was safely evacuated as the 16 people were still unaccounted for as of yesterday. The accident killed at least 6 people and injured more than 60 people.

A search for survivors was temporarily suspended as a result of bad weather, the head of the coastguard’s diving team said. Attention focused on the captain, who was spotted by Coast Guard officials and passengers fleeing the scene even as the chaotic evacuation was under way.

The ship’s Italian owner Costa Crociere issued a statement late Jan. 15 saying there appeared to be “significant human error” on the part of the captain, Francesco Schettino, “which resulted in these grave consequences.” Authorities were holding Schettino for suspected manslaughter and a prosecutor confirmed Jan. 15 they were also investigating allegations the captain abandoned the stricken liner before all the passengers had escaped. The owner said yesterday the initial cost of the disaster was $85-95 million. Schettino insisted he didn’t leave the liner early and he had done everything he could to save lives. Questions also swirled about why the ship had navigated so close to the dangerous reefs and rocks that jut off Giglio’s eastern coast, amid suspicions the captain may have ventured too close while carrying out a maneuver to entertain tourists on the island.

Turks return home

Meanwhile, five Turkish survivors returned to Turkey late Jan. 15 with temporary travel documents because they had lost their belongings, including their passports, in the ship accident. Tayfun Bora told reporters in Istanbul they received great help from Turkish Embassy officials in Italy after the accident. Hasan Filiz said he was in the ship along with his son and wife and the accident was the last thing he had expected as he had felt very safe during the trip.

Compiled from AP, AFP and DHA stories by the Daily News staff.