Cruise disaster: ship’s owners blame human error

“We are working closely with the authorities to support ongoing search and
rescue operations, and are focusing on ensuring that all guests and
crewmembers return home safely.”

And added: “As we are learning more about the event itself and the evacuation,
however, it is becoming clear that the crew of the Costa Concordia acted
bravely and swiftly to help evacuate more than 4,000 individuals during a
very challenging situation.

“We are very grateful for all they have done.

“Costa is committed to ensuring that no such incident ever occurs again.

“Our number one priority is always the safety and security of our guests and
crew and we comply with all safety regulations.”

Capt Schettino told Italian television he was not to blame for the ship, built
in 2006, crashing into rocks.

He said: “I don’t know if it was detected or not, but on the nautical chart it
was marked just as water and some 100-150 metres (328ft-492ft) from the
rocks, and we were about 300 metres (984ft) from the shore, more or less.

“We shouldn’t have had this contact.”

Two elderly passengers were found by frogmen in part of the submerged
restaurant tonight taking the death toll from three to five.

All British passengers and crew were safe and well and began returning home.

Mandy Rodford, 45, relived her nightmare saying she thought she was going to
die when the collision occurred in the Mediterranean.

Mrs Rodford and her husband John, 46, from Rochester, Kent, were celebrating
their fourth wedding anniversary and had only been aboard seven hours before
disaster struck.

Tonight, after landing at Heathrow Airport, she said: “I just thought my life
was gone.

“I just thought my life was over, getting in that water.

“I thought, if I don’t die from the swimming part, I’m going to die from the
shock of having to get in it.”

Mrs Rodford was hesitant about going on the holiday because she does not like

Mr Rodford said they first thought something was wrong during dinner when he
heard a “crunch” and his drink started sliding along the table.

He said: “Then the lights went out and came back on.

“And then it (the ship) started going the other way, and quite a lot the other

“All the plates were coming off the tables and smashing, and it was just like

“Everyone was getting the life jackets, but they told us to stay. They said:
‘It’s all right, it’s under control’.”

Earlier today a honeymooning South Korean couple were found alive, and a cabin
services director was also rescued despite suffering a suspected broken leg.

Tonight one maritime expert said it was important the captain was given
“leeway” and time to explain his decisions.

Karen Jacques, chief operating officer, of Dryad Maritime, which provides risk
forecasts and advice to mariners, said: “It’s his ship that’s sinking and he
will feel that in his belly.”

Francesco Schettino was reportedly being questioned by Italian prosecutors on
suspicion of multiple manslaughter and abandoning ship after five people
were killed in the cruising tragedy off the Tuscan coast on Friday night.

Costa Cruises, the luxury ship’s owners, issued a statement calling into
question Capt Schettino’s judgment.

It said: “We are working with investigators to find out precisely what went
wrong aboard the Costa Concordia.

“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.

“The route of the vessel appears to have been too close to the shore, and the
captain’s judgment in handling the emergency appears to have not followed
standard Costa procedures.”

Two more bodies have been recovered from a massive cruise ship which ran
aground off a tiny Italian island, increasing the death toll to five.

The Coast Guard said they found the bodies of two elderly men in the hull of
the Costa Concordia.

Both were wearing life jackets and were found in a restaurant area towards the
back of the ship by Coast Guard divers.

Cosimo Nicastro, of the Coast Guard, said rescuers were “hopeful” that other
passengers or crew would be found alive inside the ship.

Rescue officials were still hearing the sound of voices within the stricken
vessel, the Italian media reported, suggesting that there may be more
survivors in the freezing cold, dark interior.

The grim discovery came a few hours after a male member of the crew was found
alive and winched to safety by a helicopter.

A South Korean couple who had been on their honeymoon were also rescued from
the cruise ship, which lies on its side in shallow water off the coast of
Giglio island, part of the Tuscan archipelago.

Investigators were analysing the ship’s “black box”, which logged the vessel’s
speed, distance and direction of travel, as well as conversations between
officers on the bridge, after it was recovered by divers.

Authorities said 15 people now remained unaccounted for.

The Concordia was at the start of a week-long tour of Mediterranean ports when
it hit a rock off Giglio on Friday night, forcing the evacuation of its
4,000 passengers and crew amid scenes of terror and panic.

The Foreign Secretary told Sky News: “We can say now, on the basis of the
information available to us, that all the British nationals involved are
accounted for and are safe.”

He added that a rapid deployment team had been sent from the UK to Italy.

“We are doing our utmost to look after everybody. They have been through
a very dreadful and distressing experience,” he said.

It is thought most of the 23 British passengers and 12 crew members made their
way to Rome after being rescued.

The Foreign Office is helping them organise emergency travel documents and
onward travel.

Mr Hague said officials were “not complacent” when cross checking
all details.

He said: “There may still be some other information that comes to light,
but based on all the phone calls we’ve had, the passenger lists, the people
that we’ve been able to track down, the British nationals – 35 British
nationals – are safe and accounted for.”

He added that consular staff were on the ground to provide support to
passengers, including those who have lost their passports.

“That’s part of what our rapid deployment team do.

“There will be assistance available to them at the airport and a
reception centre available to them at a Rome hotel.

“It’s primarily the responsibility of the cruise liner to arrange flights
for people back home but British embassy staff, British consular staff will
be around to assist people.”

Three people died after the luxury cruise ship ran aground on Friday night a
few hundred metres from the coast of the island of Giglio off the Tuscan

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