London, Jan 23 (ANI): Francesco Schettino, the captain of the capsized cruise ship Costa Concordia, which ran aground off the Italian coast has said that he was asked to sail close to shore for publicity stunts.
Schettino, 52, accused of cowardice for abandoning ship before passengers, told investigators that Costa Cruises planned the salutes for public holidays on islands off the coast of Italy which they were due to cruise past.
"The salute to Giglio was arranged and wanted by Costa before we left Civitavecchia (port of departure). It was for publicity reasons," a copy of Schettino's testimony, leaked to an Italian newspaper, said.
"We have carried out those sail-by salutes all over the world, Sorrento, Capri. I have sailed past Giglio other times - when I was captain of Costa Europa," Schettino said.
According to Mirror.co.uk, a spokesman for Costa Cruises said that they "would not be commenting on any aspect of the ongoing investigation."
Schettino's latest claims contradict Costa chief Pierluigi Foschi's comments last week, when he said a sail-by had been authorised just once before, in 2010 off the island of Procida, near Naples.
Meanwhile, 13 people have reportedly died in the horrific incident that took place on January 13.
It has emerged more might be missing than the 20 known about because unregistered passengers might have been aboard when the ship was shipwrecked. (ANI)
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