Workers Restart Italian Cruise Ship Rescue Operations

Posted January 16th, 2012 at 9:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Italian rescuers are again searching for survivors inside the wreck of a luxury cruise ship that hit rocks and capsized off the coast of northern Italy.

The search restarted Monday afternoon, hours after the Costa Concordia slipped on its rocky resting place in bad weather, sending divers fleeing to safety.

Six people are known dead and 29 others still missing. The ship's owners, Costa Crociere cruise lines, are blaming the accident on human error by the captain.

A company spokesman says the captain was steering on an “unauthorized, unapproved” course before the ship got stuck. He said the captain steered too close to shore and made decisions during the emergency that did not follow company procedures, which are based on international standards.

Captain Francesco Schettino is in police custody, facing charges of manslaughter for allegedly abandoning the ship before all passengers were rescued.

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

Officials say that when the ship hit the rocks passengers were ordered to put on life jackets and to board life rafts. However, passengers say the ship tilted so sharply and quickly that many lifeboats could not be lowered into the water.

A leading Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera, quotes the ship's head waiter as saying the captain altered the ship's course so that the waiter could get a closer view of an island port at nightfall. The newspaper also reports that the waiter's sister announced the planned course change on the social networking website Facebook about an hour before the maneuver took place. Authorities have not commented on the report.