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Italy death toll rises to 11, ship captain grilled

The vessel`s captain, Francesco Schettino, was arrested on Saturday and has been accused of manslaughter.



Giglio Island: Divers searching for
survivors inside a stricken cruise ship off the Italian coast
found five more bodies Tuesday, as prosecutors grilled the
arrested captain over his role.

The bodies were discovered after the Italian navy used
explosives to blow holes in the wreck of the Costa Concordia
to help in the hunt for those still missing after Friday`s
disaster off the Tuscan island of Giglio.

"Scuba divers found five more bodies in the stern of the
ship," Cristiano Pellegrini, a Giglio official, said, but
said their identities were not yet known.

The death toll has now risen to 11, leaving about two
dozen still missing of the 4,200 people on board when the ship
went down on Friday,
Earlier, officials had said that 12 Germans, six Italians,
four French, two Americans, one Hungarian, one Indian and one
Peruvian were still unaccounted for. There were also reports
of a missing five-year-old Italian girl.

The huge Costa Concordia cruise liner hit rocks and
pitched over off the picturesque Tuscan island of Giglio on
Friday, and survivors have recounted scenes of chaos after the
disaster struck.

A black box transcript showed Francesco Schettino, who is
reported to have sailed so close to the shore to please a
local crew member, ignored a port official`s order to return
on deck after abandoning the stricken ship.

"Get back on board now. You must tell us how many people,
children, women and passengers are there," the official tells
Schettino, according to the recording on one of the ship`s
"black boxes".

"What are you doing? Are you abandoning the rescue?" the
official says.

Schettino, 52, was being interrogated Tuesday by Italian
prosecutors, who have accused him of multiple manslaughter and
abandoning ship before all the passengers were rescued,
although he has not yet been formally charged.

A judge was to rule whether to grant bail for Schettino,
who was arrested on Saturday along with the first officer Ciro
Ambrosio. Prosecutors called for him to be kept in custody.

The victims identified so far include two French
passengers, an Italian and a Spaniard and one Peruvian crew
member.

The Italian press reported that as the vessel began to
pitch over, crew members initiated the evacuation procedure
themselves, 15 minutes before Schettino eventually gave the
command, Italian press reported.

Island residents have already said the ship was sailing
far too close to Giglio and had hit a reef known as the School
Rocks, well known to inhabitants.

"It was bravado, Schettino was showing off, clowning
around, it was incredibly stupid. I would sentence him not
once but 10 times," said a former captain who worked with the
ship`s owner, Costa Crociere.

Costa Concordia`s owners said yesterday that the accident
occurred as a result of an "inexplicable" error by the
captain.

PTI

From Zee News

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