Italian Cruise Ship Owner: Captain Made ‘Errors of Judgment’

Posted January 15th, 2012 at 5:50 pm (UTC-5)
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The owner of the Italian cruise ship Costa Condordia, which ran aground Friday killing five, says the vessel's captain made “errors of judgment.”

The Costa Crociere ship lines said Sunday the captain's decisions during the emergency did not follow company procedures, which it says are in line with international standards. It did not specify what steps Captain Francesco Schettino failed to take.

He is in jail facing manslaughter charges for allegedly sailing off course and abandoning ship while the passengers struggled to find safety.

The cruise ship with more than 4,000 people on board ran aground late Friday off the northern Italian coast and capsized. Survivors describe a chaotic and terrifying scene. Some say there was no organization, while others jumped into the icy Mediterranean and swam to shore.

Five people were killed and at least 15 were still missing Sunday after rescuers found two elderly men in a submerged cabin.

“We were all standing there, and as the boat started going a little quicker, turning, I saw one of the cranes… It popped the life raft, and it exploded and it went boom! And it just crashed. There were two people on it, they got off I think. We saw like five people jump in the water and start swimming, and I looked and the other crane next to me, which was three feet above water, one meter above water, was like two meters below water.”

When the ship hit the rocks, officials say, passengers were instructed to put on life jackets and to take to the life rafts. However, those on board said the hull tilted so sharply and quickly that many lifeboats could not be lowered into the water.

The Costa Concordia is 290 meters long, with 13 decks. It had 13 bars, five restaurants, four swimming pools and 500 balconied staterooms.