More bodies found in Italian cruise wreck

January 14, 2012

By The Associated Press

(AP Photo)

The Italian Coast Guard says its divers have found two more bodies aboard the stricken Costa Concordia cruise ship.

The discovery of the bodies brings to five the number of known dead after the luxury ship ran aground with some 4,200 people aboard on Friday night.

The Coast Guard said Sunday the bodies of the two elderly people were found in the submerged restaurant.

A helicopter earlier airlifted a third survivor from the capsized hulk of the ship.

Authorities are holding the captain for suspected manslaughter among other possible charges.

Experts have questioned how Francesco Schettino, the 52-year-old captain with 11 years working for the ship's owner, could hit so close to the island of Giglio given Italy's well mapped sea lanes.

The chief prosecutor in the Tuscan city of Grosseto, Francesco Verusio, was quoted by the ANSA news agency as telling reporters that the captain "very ineptly got close to Giglio."

"The ship struck a reef that got stuck inside the left side, making it (the ship) lean over and take on a lot of water in the space of two, three minutes," he said.

Schettino was at the command, and it was "he who ordered the route, that's what it appears to us. It was a deliberate" choice to follow that route, ANSA quote him as saying.

It quoted Schettino's lawyer, Bruno Leporatti as saying his client understands why he was being detained but that "as his defender, I'd like to say that several hundred people owed their life to the expertise that the commander of the Costa Concordia showed during the emergency."

ANSA quoted Francesco Schettino's sister, Giulia, as saying her brother called their mother, 80-year-old Rosa, at five in the morning, saying "Mamma, there has been a tragedy. But stay calm. I tried to save the passengers. But for a while, I won't be able to phone you."

Schettino hails from Meta di Sorrento, in the Naples area where many of Italy's ferry and cruise boat captains are from. Giulia Schettino was quoted by ANSA as saying that he also asked to speak to his brother, Salvatore, who also is a sailor, to tell him what happened aboard.

ANSA reported Schettino was taken to Grosseto's jail, to be held until next week, when a judge will decide whether he should be released or formally put under arrest. The courthouse was closed late Saturday and couldn't be reached.

In Italy, suspects can be held without charge for a few days for investigation. A judge must either validate the jailing, putting the suspect under arrest, or declare him free to go.