Costa Concordia update: Italian captain detained as probe into crash goes on

Posted: 01/15/2012 in all marine news

gCaptain – 

Italian authorities on Saturday were investigating what caused a cruise ship to run aground off the Tuscan shore, triggering a confused evacuation in which three people died and dozens remain missing.

A spokeswoman for the Italian coast guard on Saturday said the Costa Concordia‘s captain, Francesco Schettino, had been detained for questioning by police and coast-guard officials.

Mr. Schettino has said the rock formation hit by the ship Friday night off the small island of Giglio wasn’t marked on nautical maps, according to the coast-guard spokeswoman.

Mr. Schettino, who hasn’t been charged, was being held in a prison in the town of Grosseto and couldn’t be reached for comment.

Two survivors were found in one of the ship’s rooms nearly a a day after the ship rolled onto its side.

They were identinfied as a South Korean couple on their honeymoon. Prato fire commander Vincenzo Bennardo said rescuers who had been banging on doors of the ship cabins all night finally heard a reply from one of the rooms early Sunday.

He said the two, about 29 years old, were in good condition. Italian authorities late Saturday recovered the ship’s black-box recorder, but it’s too soon to say what, if anything, it may reveal about the accident.

Antonio Belardo, a local official, said the ship deviated from its “usual” route in order to give passengers a view of Giglio’s port.

That meant navigating a strait, so that the ship could skirt a stretch of the small island’s coastline that faces mainland Italy.

Gianni Onorato, managing director of Carnival Corp.’s Costa Cruises, which operated the ship, told reporters on Saturday that the course taken by the ship Friday evening was “not a defined route for passing Giglio.”

However, Mr. Onorato said it would be “incorrect to say the ship was off course,” adding that he was unaware of all of the possible routes available to the captain at the time.

“It’s difficult to say at this moment what happened,” Mr. Onorato said, adding that the company was cooperating with authorities to “shed light on the causes of this tragedy that is unprecedented in our 64-year history.”

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