Captain Heard Resisting Orders To Re-Board Ship; 5 More Bodies Found

A lawyer says the captain who allegedly abandoned the crippled Costa Concordia cruise liner will be released from jail and placed under house arrest.

Sky TG24 TV and the Italian news agency ANSA quoted the defense lawyer, Bruno Leporatti, as saying a judge turned down prosecutors' request to keep Capt. Francesco Schettino in jail. But, the lawyer says, the judge also rejected a defense bid to set Schettino free.

The death toll the Costa Concordia tragedy rose to 11 on Tuesday when five bodies -- four men and one woman -- were recovered from the submerged portion of the ship, which ran into a reef, then capsized near the Tuscan island of Giglio on Friday night.

Rescuers are continuing to search the partially submerged ship for about two dozen people who are still missing.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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An Italian judge has put off a decision on whether to release a cruise ship captain from jail.

Prosecutors accuse Capt. Francesco Schettino of causing Friday's shipwreck off the Italian coast and abandoning his ship before all the passengers were evacuated.

The captain told his version of events at a preliminary hearing today. His attorney says Schettino "saved hundreds if not thousands of lives" when he maneuvered the ship close to shore after crashing into reefs.

The captain has insisted that he stayed aboard until the ship was evacuated. But in a recording of his conversation with an Italian Coast Guard officer, Schettino can be heard resisting orders to get out of a lifeboat and return to the ship to oversee the rescue and evacuation.

The Costa Concordia was carrying more than 4,200 people when it hit a reef near the Tuscan island of Giglio. The ship's owner says the captain ran the vessel aground while making an unauthorized change from the programmed course.

The number of confirmed dead has nearly doubled to 11, with the discovery of five more bodies -- all of them adults wearing life jackets. Italy's coast guard says the bodies were found in the rear of the ship near an emergency evacuation point. More than 20 other people are still unaccounted for.


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ROME (AP) -- Italian media say five more bodies have been found aboard a cruise ship that capsized off the coast of Tuscany, raising the official death toll to 11.

Teams have been searching the ship for passengers and crew missing since the Costa Concordia struck rocks Friday evening and capsized. Rescuers exploded four holes in the hull of the ship earlier Tuesday to gain easier access to areas that had not yet been searched.

Before the latest find, 29 people from the cruise ship were still missing. Officials said the missing included 14 Germans, six Italians, four French, two Americans, one Hungarian, one Indian and one Peruvian.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)



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The captain of a grounded cruise ship is heard in a recording making excuses as an Italian coast guard official repeatedly orders him to get back on his crippled ship.

In a telephone conversation, the official berates the captain, who is on a lifeboat and repeatedly says he doesn't want to return to the ship even as passengers are still being evacuated. The ship struck a rock Friday evening and capsized.

The officer tells Francesco Schettino to reboard and assess the needs of passengers: "It is an order. Don't make any more excuses."

Schettino is finally heard agreeing to reboard. It is unclear whether he did.

Schettino has been jailed for investigation of manslaughter, abandoning ship and causing a shipwreck.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)



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ROME (AP) -- Italy's cruise liner tragedy turned into an environmental crisis Monday, as rough seas battering the stricken mega-ship raised fears that fuel might leak into pristine waters off Tuscany that are part of a protected sanctuary for dolphins, porpoises and whales.

The ship's Italian operator accused the jailed captain of causing the wreck that left at least six dead and 29 missing, saying he made an "unapproved, unauthorized maneuver" to divert the vessel from its programmed course.

Earlier, authorities had said 16 people were missing. But an Italian Coast Guard official, Marco Brusco, said late Monday that 25 passengers and four crew members were unaccounted for three days after the Costa Concordia struck a reef and capsized off the coast of the tiny island of Giglio.

He didn't explain the jump, but indicated 10 of the missing are Germans. Two Americans are also among the missing.

Brusco said there was still "a glimmer of hope" there could be survivors on parts of the vast cruise liner that have yet to be searched. The last survivor, a crewman who had broken his leg, was rescued on Sunday.

Waters that had remained calm for the first days of the rescue turned choppy Monday, shifting the wreckage and raising fears that any further movement could cause some of the 500,000 gallons (1.9 million liters) of fuel on board to leak into the waters off Giglio, which are popular with scuba divers and form part of the protected Tuscan archipelago. Rescue operations were suspended for several hours because of the rough seas.

Italy's environmental minister raised the alarm about a potential environmental catastrophe. "At the moment there haven't been any fuel leaks, but we have to intervene quickly," the minister, Corrado Clini, told RAI state radio.

Even before the accident there had been mounting calls from environmentalists to restrict passage of large ships in the area.

The ship's operator, Costa Crociere SpA, has enlisted one of the world's leading salvagers, Smit of Rotterdam, Netherlands, to handle the removal of the 1,000-foot (290-meter) cruise liner and extract the fuel safely. Smit has a long track record of dealing with wrecks and leaks, including refloating grounded bulk carriers and securing drilling platforms in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Meanwhile, the Italian cruise operator said Capt. Francesco Schettino intentionally strayed from the ship's authorized course into waters too close to the perilous reef, causing it to crash late Friday and capsize.

The navigational version of a "fly by" was apparently made as a favor to the chief waiter who is from Giglio and whose parents live on the island, local media reported.

A judge on Tuesday is to decide whether Schettino should remain jailed.

"We are struck by the unscrupulousness of the reckless maneuver that the commander of the Costa Concordia made near the island of Giglio," prosecutor Francesco Verusio told reporters. "It was inexcusable."

The head of the U.N. agency on maritime safety said lessons must be learned from the Concordia disaster 100 years after the Titanic rammed into an iceberg, leading to the first international convention on sea safety.

"We should seriously consider the lessons to be learned and, if necessary, re-examine the regulations on the safety of large passenger ships in the light of the findings of the casualty investigation," said Koji Sekimizu, secretary-general of the International Maritime Organization.

Miami-based Carnival Corp., which owns the Italian operator, estimated that preliminary losses from having the Concordia out of operation at least through 2012 would be between $85 million and $95 million, though it said there would be other costs as well. The company's share price slumped more than 16 percent Monday.

Two of the missing are Americans, identified by their family as Jerry Heil, 69, and his wife Barbara, 70, from White Bear Lake, Minnesota.


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