|Page (1) of 1 - 01/15/12||email article||print page|
Costa CEO blames human error by captain for cruise ship's capsizing, grounding off Italy
ROME (AP) ' The chief executive of Italian owner of the cruise ship that capsized off Tuscany on Monday blamed "human error" on the part of the captain for the grounding of the vessel.
Costa Crociere chairman and CEO Pier Luigi Foschi's comments came after authorities said a sixth body had been discovered in the wreckage of the liner, which had carried some 4,200 people.
Foschi told reporters the liner had passed all safety and technical tests in its 2011 evaluation. He added that the company's main concern was the safety and well-being of the passengers and crew, as well as to ensure fuel doesn't leak out from the upended hull into the pristine waters off the island of Giglio.
The Costa Concordia ran into a reef Friday night and capsized into the port area of Giglio, sparking a frantic evacuation of those onboard. Coast Guard officials have expressed concern that the ship might slip off the rocks where it is currently perched.
Costa Crociere is a subsidiary of Carnival Cruise lines. In a statement on Sunday, the company said that the captain, Francesco Schettino, "appears to have not followed standard Costa procedures."
"The route of the vessel appears to have been too close to the shore," it said.
Carnival PLC, the owner of the capsized boat, saw its share price plummet by around a fifth.
Authorities were holding Schettino for suspected manslaughter and a prosecutor confirmed Sunday they were also investigating allegations the captain abandoned the stricken liner before all the passengers had escaped. According to the Italian navigation code, a captain who abandons a ship in danger can face up to 12 years in prison.
Schettino insisted he didn't leave the liner early, telling Mediaset television that he had done everything he could to save lives. "We were the last ones to leave the ship," he said.
Questions have been swirling 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.
Residents of Giglio said they had never seen the Costa come so close to the dangerous "Le Scole" reef area.