Cruise captain ‘panicked’ but the ship’s purser was a hero

Death toll reaches six as Costa Concordia’s captain is accused of abandoning ship with 230 still aboard

LAST UPDATED AT 08:35 ON Mon 16 Jan 2012

THE SINKING of the cruise ship Costa Concordia off the Italian island of Giglio continues to dominate the headlines as the death toll mounts and claims emerge that the ship's captain was "showing off".
 
Francesco Schettino has been questioned by Italian prosecutors on suspicion of manslaughter and abandoning ship after at least six people were killed in the accident off the Tuscan coast on Friday.
 
Costa Cruises, the owners of the wrecked ship, said on Sunday that it appeared the accident was caused by "significant human error". It added: "The route of the vessel appears to have been too close to the shore, and the captain's judgment in handling the emergency appears to have not followed standard Costa procedures."
 
It is now being claimed that Schettino was "showing off" by navigating close to the island in order to salute a friend. According to The Daily Telegraph: "It had apparently become a long-standing practice for the Costa Concordia to sail close to the island in order to greet its inhabitants with a siren from the ship.
 
"The tradition appears to have begun when the wife of a former senior officer lived on the island and he would take the ship close to Giglio to greet her."
 
The death toll rose to six on Sunday when three more bodies were discovered on board the vessel. A further 15 people are still missing.
 
The ship's purser Manrico Giampetroni was winched to safety on Sunday 36 hours after the disaster. He was trapped on board after he broke his leg as he helped evacuate passengers on Friday night.
 
The Guardian reports: "Giampedroni emerged as one of the few heroes of the tragedy amid reports that the captain and other crew members panicked and mounted lifeboats ahead of passengers."
 
The Times says that Schettino has been accused of abandoning ship because he left the ship "while there were still some 230 people aboard - including two newborns and four disabled people who were not rescued until 2am".  · 

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