1:21 PM on 17th January 2012
The Costa Concordia’s captain did abandon ship before hundreds of his passengers, it has emerged via a transcript of a conversation between him and the local coastguard.
Francesco Schettino, who will be questioned today by investigating magistrate Valeria Montesarchio, also lied to the Captain of the Port of Livorno’s Coastguard when asked how many people were on board the sinking liner, Italian media reported today.
He initially replied ’40’, when there were actually hundreds still at risk, and when further questioned admitted he was not even there.
He then ignored an order to go back onto the sinking ship – with some reports suggesting he volunteered to return, but only to pick up the black box.
The publication of the transcripts by Il Fatto Quotidiano newspaper comes as it was revealed junior officers onboard led a ‘mutiny’ after the ship struck a reef and captain Francesco Schettino dithered in giving the order to abandon the stricken vessel.
According to coastguards Schettino did not give the crucial instructions until 10.58pm on Friday night, more than one hour after the initial impact with the rocks, and so wasting valuable time that contributed to the loss of six lives.
Officials say that during those chaotic minutes, the bungling skipper had tried to palm them off and minimise the dangerous situation it was facing – and that it was his juniors who realised the impending disaster and ordered passengers and crew to the lifeboats.
Proof of the ‘mutiny’ came from coastguard vessels at the scene, who reported seeing several lifeboats in the water before Schettino had officially given the order at just before 11pm.
Italian authorities believe the fact that so many lifeboats were seen in the water in the water just ten minutes after Schettino had ordered them to be launched is proof that they had already been lowered before his command.
A Coastguard source said: ‘Ten minutes is just not enough time to have launched the number of boats that were seen in the water. That’s why we believe that once the ship had started to list, crew members realised the seriousness of the situation and ordered passengers to the lifeboats ahead of the captain giving the order.’
The latest claims follow the publication of transcripts of several heated conversations between coastguards and Schettino, which purportedly took place on Friday night. The first call to the boat took place at 9.49pm, where the coastguard asked what the situation was. The boat had run aground some 30 minutes before.
They did not speak again until 0.42am, when Schettino was asked how many people were on board. He replied ’40’. The coastguard, surprised, asked how there were so few people left on board, and Schettino replied: ‘I’m not on board because we have abandoned the ship.’
The coastguard asked him to return to the ship to co-ordinate the evacuation. At 1.46am, Schettino received another call. The speaker said: ‘You will return to the boat immediately. You have to tell me how many passengers are left.’
Confusingly, the captain replied: ‘I’m on board, but I’m here.’ The coastguard, who Italian media says understood he had no intention of returning, issued an ultimatum. He said: ‘Captain, this is an order. I am in charge now. There are dead bodies.’
The publication of the transcript comes as Schettino was labelled the ‘most hated man in Italy’. And it precedes the revelation, from a survivor, that men pushed past children who were screaming ‘I don’t want to die’ as the young and elderly were ‘abandoned by the crew’.
Appearance: Police officers stand outside the Grosseto courthouse where Captain Francseco Schettino will appear
The 52-year-old, who lives with wife Fabiola and their 15-year-old daughter at a £175,000 apartment in the small seaside town of Meta di Sorrento near Naples, is at the centre of a Facebook hate campaign after being squarely blamed for the cruise liner running aground.
Thousands have taken to the web to vent their fury at the so-called ‘Captain Coward’, who it is now claimed ‘skimmed’ past the Tuscan isle of Giglio not just to salute a retired officer but also to impress his head waiter’s family on shore.
Many scorned his decision not to remain with his stricken ship. The official death toll rose to seven this morning after another body was pulled from the tilting wreckage. Last night the number of those still unaccounted for rose to 29 – 25 passengers and four crew.
Schettino, who faces up to 12 years in jail for manslaughter, will appear in court today after his company chiefs accused him of an ‘unauthorised and unapproved’ decision to sail so close to the eastern side of the island of Giglio.
The £400million liner, with 4,200 passengers and crew, was sailing just 300 yards from the island’s rocky coast when it should have been at least four miles out to sea. It came to grief on Friday night after sustaining a 160ft gash in the port-side hull.
After swiftly escaping from the listing liner, Schettino – the Concordia’s skipper for six years – was arrested along with first officer Ciro Ambrosio.
The captain was spotted wrapped in a blanket on his way to the shore at around 11.30pm – more than four hours before the evacuation of the vessel was completed – and breaking the maritime tradition of remaining with his ship.
Anger: Hundreds of people are signing up to a Facebook group to berate the captain of the ship Francesco Schettino
Boast: A relative of the ship’s restaurant boss told her friends on Facebook how the boat would soon pass by, very close, to the island
One Italian report said he hailed a taxi and said to the driver: ‘Get me as far away from here as possible’.
Tuscan prosecutor Franco Verusio, who is leading the investigation, said: ‘Captain Schettino was in command. He was the one who ordered that course to be taken, at least according to what we have discovered. There was someone in particular that wanted to be signalled from the ship.’
Schettino gave the order for the doomed sail-by of the island as a ‘salute of respect’ for former Costa commander Mario Palombo, whose parents are from Giglio, it is alleged.
The stunt – as passengers were enjoying dinner at 9.30pm on Friday – was apparently also a favour for the ship’s maître d’ Antonello Tievoli, who lives on the island.
Italian news reports said that that minutes before the Concordia crashed into an underwater reef just two hours into a seven-day Mediterranean cruise, Schettino told the head waiter: ‘Come and look, we are passing over your Giglio.’
After his rescue, Tievoli is understood to have joked: ‘I never thought I would get dropped off at home.’
His 82-year-old father Giuseppe said his son had phoned him before the accident to say the crew would salute him by blowing the ship’s whistle as they passed by.
He said: ‘Antonello called and said that we should look out of the window at around 9.30pm because he would be on the ship and it would pass right by Giglio. All the ships do it but they never come that close – I was at the window with my wife and, as he said, the ship went past.’
Tievoli’s sister Patrizia, a teacher on the island, made a Facebook post 30 minutes before the disaster saying: ‘Shortly, the Costa Concordia will pass really, really close, a big hello to my brother who will disembark at Savona and finally get to enjoy some holiday.’
Tievoli, 46, has already been questioned by investigators while Palombo, who retired in 2006 because of ill health, is also expected to be interviewed.
But Palombo last night insisted the ‘nautical bow’ was not meant for him as he was not on the island at the time. ‘I have gone to the prosecutor’s office after I was dragged into all this. I’ve been made to feel responsible.’
Search and rescue: Underwater photographs show a diver searching the Costa Concordia, left, and a huge gaping hole in the vessel, right
The stunt of sailing past the island is said to have become something of a tradition for the Concordia. In August, it skirted Giglio sounding its whistle – prompting the mayor to send a congratulatory email to the captain for providing such a ‘spectacle to tourists’.
HEATED EXCHANGE AS CAPTAIN ‘ADMITS HE HAD LEFT SHIP’
The transcripts show heated telephone exchanges took place between captain Schettino and harbour master officials in the hours after he struck the rocks at around 9.40pm on Friday evening.
At 9.49pm Schettino is asked: ‘Is everything ok?’ He replied: ‘Yes, just a small technical problem.’
This was despite the hull having a 70m gash.
There was silence until half past midnight when officials managed to contact the captain – who by now had got off a lifeboat and safely on shore.
Hundreds of passengers were still onboard as the order to abandon ship had only been given an hour earlier.
An official at Livorno harbour asked: ‘How many passengers are left to evacuate captain?’ He answered: ‘I’ve called the company and they say around 40.’
The official, who knew from reports at the scene that hundreds were still onboard, added: ‘How come so few? Are you still onboard captain?’
Captain Schettino replied: ‘No, I’m not onboard, the ship’s beached, we have abandoned.’ To which the shocked official responded: ‘What? You have abandoned ship?’ He answered: ‘No, what are you talking about abandoning.’
Minutes later he was contacted again and told: ‘Get back on board, get back to the ship and co-ordinate the rescue. You need to tell me how many people are onboard, how many women, how many children. You need to organise the rescue.
‘Captain this is an order, I am in charge now, you have given the order to abandon ship and you need to get back to coordinate the rescue, OK. There are already bodies.’
Captain Schettino replied in a whisper: ‘How many?’ with the harbour master shouting at him: ‘You tell me. What do you want to do? Go home? You now get back on board and tell me what you are going to do.’
He replied: ‘Alright, I’m going’. But he failed to obey the order and instead was reportedly seen getting into a taxi which took him from Seagull Point, the reef where the Concordia had beached, to the harbour at Giglio.
A state of emergency has been declared around the stricken vessel after an unidentified liquid began to leak from the ship. Protective barriers have been put in place around the Costa Concordia. Speaking to Sky News, Giglio mayor Sergio Ortelli said: ‘This is an ecological timebomb.
‘I hope that the fuel can be taken off the ship soon and maybe the ship can be removed too because it is hampering navigation.’
The captain has also been accused of dining with beautiful women as the liner crashed into rocks and of raiding the safe before jumping ship.
Monique Maurek, 41, from the Netherlands, said: ‘What scandalised me most was when I saw the captain spending much of the evening before we hit the rocks drinking in the bar with a beautiful woman on his arm.
‘Most people didn’t even have any idea of what the evacuation warning sound would be. It was only because some of us had already been on a cruise that we recognised that seven blasts of the horn was a signal to abandon ship.’
Phil Metcalf, whose daughter Rose was one of the last people off the ship, said she had revealed the captain allegedly abandoned ship in the early stages of the evacuation, leaving his staff onboard.
He said: ‘Since the captain had left there was nobody, so everybody was left to their own devices hence some of the chaos, so obviously the crew took it upon themselves and decided in the absence of the captain to organise and try and help people.’
Prosecutors described Schettino’s handling of the giant craft as ‘inept’ .
Schettino told maritime investigators that charts showed he was in water deep enough to navigate and that he had struck an unidentified rocky outcrop of the island.
Once he realised the extent of the damage he immediately tried to change route and head for the safety of Giglio harbour.
His lawyer, Bruno Leporatti, said Schettino was ‘overcome and wants to express his greatest condolences to the victims’.
But he said Schettino’s actions in anchoring the ship at one end to swing it closer to the shore after the collision, ‘saved the lives of thousands of people’. ‘It could have been an enormous tragedy,’ Mr Leporatti added.
Yesterday, the chief executive of the Italian owner blamed ‘human error’ on the part of the captain for the grounding of the vessel.
Costa Crociere chairman and CEO Pier Luigi Foschi told reporters the liner had passed all safety and technical tests in its 2011 evaluation.
Explaining that the ship was ‘ultra safe’, Mr Foschi said the captain had made an unauthorised and unapproved deviation from the ship’s programmed course.
Mr Foschi said: ‘This route was put in correctly. The fact that it left from this course is due solely to a manoeuvre by the commander that was unapproved, unauthorised and unknown to Costa.’
He added that the company’s main concern was the safety and well-being of the passengers and crew, as well as to ensure fuel doesn’t leak out from the upended hull into the pristine waters off the island of Giglio.
Costa Crociere is a subsidiary of Carnival Cruise lines.
In a statement on Sunday, the company said that the captain, Francesco Schettino, ‘appears to have not followed standard Costa procedures.’
‘The route of the vessel appears to have been too close to the shore,’ it said. Carnival PLC, the owner of the capsized boat, saw its share price plummet by around a fifth.
The allegations against Schettino – all of which were denied by his family – led to him being dubbed ‘Captain Coward’ by some of the furious survivors who also accused his senior colleagues of abandoning them.
One couple, French military officer Ophelie Gondelle and police officer David Du Pays, said they saw the captain in a lifeboat, covered by a blanket, well before all the passengers were off the ship.
Asked about the suggestion that the captain had abandoned ship, senior prosecutor Francesco Verusio said: ‘Unfortunately, I must confirm that circumstance.’
Guiseppe Tievoli, who was told by his son Antonello, maitre d’ on the Costa Concordia, pictured far right, to look out of his window as the ship passed. Antonello’s sister Patrizia (in pink) posted a message on Facebook at 9.08pm on Friday saying the ship would soon pass very close to dry land. Minutes later, it ran aground
Mess: The level of destruction and damage inside the Costa Concordia can be seen here as an Italian coastguard diver searches for missing passengers
Hunt: Divers inspect the Costa Concordia for those missing. These images give an indication of the gloomy conditions in which they are working
Postponed: Giglio’s mayor has admitted ‘hopes are fading’ for finding any more survivors of the disaster. Dyana Arlotti, 5, and her father William are among those missing
Firemen search for missing people in and around the partially submerged Costa Concordia cruise ship
A helicopter soars over the keeled over ship off the Isola del Giglio after it hit underwater rocks
Sunk: Rescuers hunt desperately for survivors yesterday as the Costa Concordia remains lying on its side
Capsizing: Panicked passengers wearing life-jackets assemble to escape from the ship after it ran on to rocks
Sliding into the sea: Military rescuers patrol next to the cruise ship. A water slide can be seen here on its side and above sun lounger chairs are still on deck after it ran aground and keeled over
Friends and relatives of passengers who were on board the cruise liner have turned to social media to search for loved ones and vent their anger and shock at the disaster.
‘My cousin and my niece are still among the missing… someone said they were airlifted out but there are no traces…please let me know if you’ve seen them!” wrote Sabrina Ottaviani on a Facebook forum, above a photo of her relatives.
The special Facebook page dedicated to the Costa Concordia was created after a British dancer who worked on the cruise liner used the social network to urge people to pray for her before she was rescued.
Social networks were buzzing with reaction to the disaster with particularly harsh criticism aimed at the Captain. ‘Shame! To abandon the ship! Shame!,’ wrote one Facebook user, while others formed a group in the captain’s defence.
Twitter users were posting the latest photos and videos of the vessel and keeping track of developments in the rescue.
As an injured crewman and a Korean honeymoon couple were rescued 48 hours after the vessel came to grief, it also emerged that:
■ Survivors were left to swim for their lives and shin down rope ladders during a terrifying ‘Titanic-like’ escape. They told how women and children were barged out of the way by crewmen heading for the lifeboats.
■ Fears grew of an environmental disaster amid claims from the scene that fuel has started leaking from the liner.
■ Rescue divers continue to search submerged parts of the ship before bad weather sinks it fully.
■ All the 35 British passengers and crew on board have been rescued safely and are uninjured.
The crash has shocked all those who enjoy the multi-billion-pound cruise industry and believe they are holidaying in absolute safety.
Dramatic evidence: A huge piece of rock from the seabed ripped a hole in the hull of the liner
Schettino is taken into custody in Grosseto, Italy
Italian Coast Guard personnel recover the black box from the Costa Condordia cruise ship that ran aground off the west coast of ItalyCaptain Schettino insisted his charts and navigation system show he was in ‘safe water’ and that the rocks he had hit were unmarked – a claim which amazed locals on Giglio who say the dangers were well known.
First Officer Ciro Ambrosio was also arrested and detained with Schettino at Porto Santo Stefano on the Italian mainland before being transferred to prison.
Tuscan chief prosecutor Verusio said the Concordia had ‘very ineptly’ approached the island en route to the port of Savona. The shipping lanes marked on maps plot a course to the west of the island. The Concordia came to grief to the east of Giglio.
Mr Verusio said the ship had struck a reef on its port side causing it to take in an ‘enormous amount of water in a matter of minutes’. A huge piece of rock remained embedded in the hull.
Italian police are conducting two investigations – one into the route the captain took and one into the evacuation of the ship. The 117,000-ton Concordia smashed into rocks two hours into a seven-day Mediterranean cruise as passengers were enjoying dinner at 9.30pm on Friday.
Schettino, who has worked with Concordia for ten years, called his mother Rosa in Naples at 5am and said: ‘There has been a tragedy but keep calm. I tried to save the passengers. I won’t be able to call you for a while but don’t worry.’
His sister Giulia said: ‘We are keeping calm. Franco is a good captain and he has told the truth.’ British dancer Rose Metcalf, who was among the last to be lifted off the ship early on Saturday, said that there was a rumour among staff that the captain had fled with cash.
At the family home in Wimborne, Dorset, her father Philip, 56, said: ‘Other members of staff said that the captain and possibly his first officer left the ship as soon as it hit the rock. They said the captain emptied the safe and fled with the money.
‘She didn’t know if it was true, but if it was she didn’t want him to get away with it. She said that the command structure had broken down and they had to organise the evacuation themselves.’
Friday January 13th, 2012
January 13th, 2012
13 +2+0+1+2 = 18 = the disaster’s “secret” number = Surreal. Horrific. Like a bad dream. This is crazy.
January 13th, 2012
1 + 13 +2+0+1+2 = 19 = the disaster’s life lesson and personal year (from January 13th, 2012 to January 13th, 2013) = Sunshine is the best disinfectant.
19 year + 1 (January) = 20 = the disaster’s personal month (from January 13th, 2012 to February 13th, 2012) = Guilt. Trial. Judges. Sentence.
20 year + 13 (13th of the month on Friday January 13th, 2012) = 33 = the disaster’s personal day = Captain Coward.
comprehensive summary and list of predictions for 2012:
learn numerology from numerologist to the world, Ed Peterson:
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