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Cruise ship owner criticises captain as death toll hits six

The owner of the luxury liner that ran aground off the coast of Italy, killing at least six people, said its captain had made "errors of judgement" as the search continued for the missing.

Rescuers desperately working through the night found the body of a man in the wreckage of the Costa Concordia early today, taking the death toll from the disaster to six, the ANSA news agency reported.

About 15 people, including Italians, Americans and French nationals, are still missing after the massive ship hit rocks and capsized off the island of Giglio late Friday shortly after it began a seven-day Mediterranean cruise.

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"It seems that the commander made errors of judgement that had serious consequences," said a statement from the liner's owner Costa Crociere, referring to Captain Francesco Schettino.

"His decisions in the management of the emergency did not follow Costa Crociere's procedures which are in line with international standards."

The prosecutor leading the investigation, Francesco Verusio, told reporters that Schettino, who was arrested Saturday with first officer Ciro Ambrosio, had left the stricken liner "well before" the last passengers were evacuated.

Coast guard officials also said the captain ignored repeated requests from them to return to his ship as the rescue operation continued.

"The route followed by the ship was not the right one," Verusio said yesterday, accusing Schettino of having "approached Giglio island in a very clumsy manner."

Prosecutors have also said the crew mishandled the emergency, delaying the start of the evacuation until an hour after the accident, and survivors have spoken of scenes of utter chaos and panic on board the 17-deck liner.

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