Entries in Porto Santo Stefano (3)


Cruise Ship Wreck: New Audio Recordings Surface

ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images(PORTO SANTO STEFANO, Italy) -- New audio recordings recovered from an Italian cruise liner could shed more light into happened after it hit the rocks near the Tuscan coast and when the captain left as divers continue to search the wreck cruise ship.

In recordings posted by Italian television, Capt. Francesco Schettino tells officials on the mainland, there were "more or less" 200-300 people still on board.

The coast guard asks, "captain, is everyone going to abandon the ship or is someone going to stay?"

Schettino replies: "I'm going to stay here."

Schettino, who is under house arrest, could face criminal charges, including manslaughter and abandoning ship.

Schettino claimed earlier he tripped into the lifeboat and never meant to abandon the sinking ship. He told investigators earlier that his actions after the crash were competent and saved lives.

The CEO of the cruise line said that because Schettino did not tell them exactly what was going on in those minutes after the crash, they did not send the proper response.

On Saturday, divers found the body of a woman still wearing a life jacket in a submerged area of the ship, bringing the total death toll from the Costa Concordia tragedy to 12.

There are still 20 people reported missing, including Minnesota couple Barbara and Jerry Heil.

On Saturday afternoon, the couple's children met Italian officials and left flowers in the water for their parents - daisies for their mother, white roses for the father

The Heils are the only Americans who are still unaccounted for among the 4,200 passengers that were onboard the liner.

A couple from Little Rock, Ark. said they're happy to be home again after their experience aboard the Costa Concordia.

Mark Plath said he, his wife and two other family members jumped off the sinking ship and swam to safety.

"I came up out of the water and looked back and said swim as fast as you can because the boat was turning on top of us it would have crushed us all," Plath said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Italian Cruise Ship Sinking: Sixth Body Found

ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images(PORTO SANTO STEFANO, Italy) -- A sixth body has been found in the wreckage of the Costa Concordia cruise ship that capsized off the coast of Tuscany as rescue workers continue searching for survivors in the part of the ship that is above water.

The sixth body to be found on the cruise ship Costa off Giglio is still unidentified, though it has been confirmed by Italian news outlet Ansa that the man was a passenger on the ship. The man was found on the second deck in a part of the ship which was not flooded by water. He had his life vest on.

Sixteen people are still unaccounted for after the Costa Concordia, which was carrying 4,234 passengers and crew, hit rocks Friday evening near Giglio, a small island off the coast of Tuscany. Investigators say the ship was an "incredibly close" 150 meters (roughly 500 feet) from the shore.

The bodies of two passengers found wearing life jackets aboard the ship were identified Sunday, officials said. Both passengers were elderly men -- one Italian, the other Spanish. The bodies were found earlier Sunday near a gathering point in the submerged part of the luxury liner.

"While the investigation is ongoing, preliminary indications are that there may have been significant human error on the part of the ship's master, Captain Francesco Schettino, which resulted in these grave consequences," Costa Cruises said in a statement. "The route of the vessel appears to have been too close to the shore, and in handling the emergency the captain appears not to have followed standard Costa procedures."

Experts are still analyzing the ship's black box, which has already revealed a one-hour lag between the time of the impact on the rocks at 9:45 p.m. local time Friday and the ship's alarm call to the coast guard at about 10:43 p.m. Investigators suspect Schettino tried to maneuver the ship before alerting coast guard, the Italian news outlet Ansa reported.

Schettino is in custody, facing possible charges of manslaughter and abandoning his ship. Schettino reportedly left the stricken vessel at approximately 12:30 a.m., while many passengers didn't get safely off the ship until 6 a.m., Ansa reported.

Ten passengers and six crew members are still unaccounted for. The number was reduced from an earlier estimate of 40 unaccounted for.

The U.S. embassy in Rome estimates 120 Americans were on board the ship, of which 118 have been accounted for.

"Our immediate priority is to account for all passengers and crew, and to secure the vessel to ensure that there are no environmental impacts," Costa Cruises said in a statement. "We have engaged the services of a top specialized salvage company to develop an action plan and help establish a protection perimeter around the ship."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Alleged Actions by Captain ‘Unforgivable,’ Maritime Lawyer Says

ENZO RUSSO/AFP/Getty Images(PORTO SANTO STEFANO, Italy) -- A maritime law expert called the reported actions of the capsized cruise ship the Costa Concordia ”unforgivable.”

Capt. Francesco Schettino is being detained and questioned about his actions that led to the deaths of at least six people. Among the issues are accusations that the captain abandoned his ship while hundreds of terrified passengers were still aboard struggling to find a way off the darkened ship.

Schettino, who is being held in jail in the town of Grosseto, is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.

The captain’s lawyer Bruno Leporatti said Monday that Schettino is “distressed, shocked, in pain for the loss of human life, but comforted by the knowledge that he kept lucid enough to carry out a difficult emergency maneuver which, taking the ship into shallow waters, in fact saved the life of many people, guests and crew.”

Others were outraged by reports that Schettino had taken the ship on an authorized route, waited nearly an hour to send out an SOS, and left the stricken ship around 12:30 a.m. Saturday, although many passengers didn’t get rescued till 6 a.m.

“The captain is the master of the vessel,” John H. “Jack” Hickey, a maritime trial lawyer in Miami, told ABC News. “Every crew members looks to the captain for guidance and leadership. He has to take care of life and property in that order. If I were the captain, I’d be out there in boats.”

Hickey said he didn’t know whether a captain abandoning a ship was illegal by any state or federal statute, but he did say that it was protocol and an industry standard that the captain remain.

“It’s what they teach them in maritime school. It’s in the merchant mariners handbook,” said Hickey, who now represents passengers and crew members against cruise lines. Previously he worked as an attorney for the cruise lines.

“It’s the captain’s responsibility to know the waters and avoid coming close to any shoals and reefs. He should know this route,” Hickey said. “The key is to avoid mistakes and when mistakes are made, to react to it appropriately. ”

The ship’s black box reportedly revealed a one-hour lag between the time of impact at 9:45 p.m. local time Friday and the ship’s alarm call to the coast guard at 10:43 p.m. Investigators said they believed the captain was trying to move the ship before alerting authorities, the Italian news agency Ansa reported.

There were also reports that some passengers did not know where to meet in case of an emergency and that a drill had been scheduled for the following day.

“There are standards,” Hickey told ABC News Monday. “If the ship is aground hard and you can’t move it … you should be calling ‘May Day’ right then and there. It’s kind of outrageous what happened. It seems unforgivable. Muster drills should be done every time they leave port [with new passengers]. You never put it off.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio