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Costa Concordia Captain Ordered To House Arrest

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The shamed Costa Concordia captain who abandoned ship in Friday’s deadly luxury liner crash has been ordered to house arrest.

Captain Francesco Schettino claims his abandoning the doomed Costa Concordia cruise ship was accidental, that he slipped and fell onto a lifeboat while helping passengers exit the ship that went aground late Friday on the rocks of Giglio Island, an island off Italy’s Italian coast. While the liner continued to sink into the Tyrrhenian Sea, off northern Italy’s coast, and rescue crews frantically worked to recover the dozens missing and collect the dead, Schettino maintained he was faultless during a three-hour hearing yesterday, said La Repubblica, wrote The Guardian.

Schettino told the judge, “The passengers were pouring on to the decks, taking the lifeboats by assault,” according to La Repubblica. “I didn’t even have a life jacket because I had given it to one of the passengers. I was trying to get people to get into the boats in an orderly fashion. Suddenly, since the ship was at a 60-70° angle, I tripped and I ended up in one of the boats. That’s how I found myself in the lifeboat … Suspended there, I was unable to lower the boat into the sea, because the space was blocked by other boats in the water,” Schettino added.

Schettino finally admitted he was responsible for the crash, which ripped a huge gash into the Costa Concordia, forcing him to ground the liner. “I made a mistake on the approach,” he said, wrote The Guardian. “I was navigating by sight because I knew the depths well and I had done this maneuver three or four times. But this time I ordered the turn too late and I ended up in water that was too shallow. I don’t know why it happened. I was a victim of my instincts,” he continued. Schettino also confirmed that he sailed too close to Giglio in order to salute retired captain, Mario Palombo, and was speaking, by telephone to Palombo at the time, said The Guardian. Regarding drug testing, Schettino said “I don’t do drugs and I had not drunk.” By grounding the luxury line, Schettino maintains he saved many lives.

Schettino jailed since the crash that has caused 11 deaths, so far, was appearing before a judge in Grosseto, Italy. His attorneys advised reporters that Schettino was being held under house arrest and Italian media reported he was returning to his Naples home. Criminal charges against the captain include manslaughter and abandoning ship (which could total 12 years, alone) and are expected soon, said CBS/AP.

Meanwhile, said CBS/AP, Italian workers were forced to suspend operations today when the liner shifted, again, on the rocks, endangering diver and firefighter safety. The shift renewed fears that the massive ship could slip off the rock ledge on which it now rests, plunging it into the deep water, explained CBS/AP. Sadly, said CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey, the prevailing feeling is that no one is expected to be found alive at this point. The cruise liner is the largest ever to be involved in a crash.

Yesterday an audio was released in which Schettino can be heard whining and making excuses as the Italian coast guard continually ordered him to return to the Costa Concordia and oversee evacuation to completion. At first, Schettino is heard describing the historic crash as simply being only a “small technical failure” according to the recovered radio conversation that Italian media obtained.

A passenger report to port officials of a “shipwreck” alerted authorities to the magnitude of the problem. And, although passengers were still on board, Schettino allegedly said he was no longer on board at 12:42 a.m. Although repeatedly commanded to reboard the stricken liner by Captain Gregorio De Falco of the Italian coast guard in Livorno, it was later discovered that Schettino was allegedly nearing the Tuscan shore and entering a taxi when he claimed to be on board. Eyewitness and survivor reports contradict Schettino’s original allegations that he never left his ship.

The Costa Concordia ran aground last Friday evening. Around 4,200 passengers and crew were aboard the cruise ship at the time. Twenty-two remain missing, and hopes that they might be found alive are dwindling.

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