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'Fleeing' Italy cruise ship captain was ordered to get back to sinking boat

London, Wed, 18 Jan 2012 ANI

London, Jan 18 (ANI): As the luxury cruise ship lay crippled off the Italian coast with thousands of people scrambling to evacuate, a coast guard official repeatedly ordered the captain to get back on the sinking vessel, but he refused to do so, it has emerged.


An audio recording, on Corriere della Sera's website, has reflected the chaos and confusion in the minutes after the Costa Concordia, carrying over 4,000 passengers and crew, hit a rock off the Tuscany coast on Friday night and keeled over.


The recording, full of background noises, revealed that captain Francesco Schettino made repeated excuses as an Italian coast guard official ordered him to get back on the vessel packed with thousands of frightened passengers and crew.


"Schettino? Listen Schettino, there are people trapped on board. Now you need to go on your life boat, under the bow of the ship on the side. There is a ladder. You need to climb up the ladder and board the ship. Get on board and report to me how many people there are. Is that clear? I am recording this conversation, captain Schettino," The Telegraph quoted the Italian coast guard, as saying.


"Captain, please... I am in the life boat, under the ship, I haven't gone anywhere, I'm here," Schettino said.


The coast guard again asked Schettino to get on board, but the captain continued making excuses.


"Are you refusing to go on board? Tell me the reason why you are not going," the coast guard said.


"No, no I am not refusing. I am not going because there is another life boat that has stopped Schettino replied.


Meanwhile, a Coast Guard official on Giglio, the island where the ship hit a rock, said he could not confirm the authenticity of the tape.


Schettino had been jailed for investigation of manslaughter, abandoning ship and causing a shipwreck. He could face up to 12 years in prison on the abandoning ship charge alone. (ANI)


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