Captain neared rocks in FB stunt for friend

Jan 18, 2012, 08:52 IST | Agencies

Ship sailed perilously close to the coast so that the head waiter could salute his family on land

Ship sailed perilously close to the coast so that the head waiter could salute his family on land

In a pre-planned stunt advertised on Facebook, captain of the Concordia, Francesco Schettino, sailed perilously close to the coast of Giglio so that the ship's head waiter could salute his family on land.

Minutes before the cruise ship hit the rocks, the waiter's sister Patrizia Tievoli had posted on Facebook that, 'In a short period of time the Concordia ship will pass very close. A big greeting to my brother who will finally get to have a holiday on landing in Savona.'

According to Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper, as the cruise liner approached the island's coastline Captain Francesco Schettino (52) said to the head waiter Antonello Tievolli, "Come and see, Antonello, we're right in front of Giglio".

He misjudged the stunt, however, with the result that the ship hit the rocks, tearing a huge gash in its hull and forcing the night-time evacuation of its more than 4,000 passengers and crew.

When the head waiter eventually reached dry land after the mass evacuation of the ship, he reportedly told friends and relatives on Giglio, "I would never have imagined that I'd end up disembarking on my own island like this."

Tievoli, the son of a retired hairdresser who still lives on the island, is "tormented by a sense of guilt", even though he did not request the sail-past, Corriere della Sera reported.

His father, Giuseppe Tievoli, a white-haired 82 year-old who has lived his whole life on Giglio, said: "Antonello called me earlier to say the ship would be passing by the island at around 9.30 and they would come and give us a whistle to say hello. It was something they often did.

"The ship obviously came too close. I don't know if Antonello asked the captain to come near, but the responsibility is always and only the captain's.

"It was only coincidence my son was on board. He was supposed to have disembarked at Savona (on a cruise the week before), but the person who was supposed to replace him wasn't well, so he had to stay on board." The captain, who has been accused of negligence and dereliction of duty, also performed the sail-past as a sort of salute to an old colleague, a former admiral from the Costa Crociere cruise line.

5 more bodies found
Divers searching the capsized cruise ship found five more bodies yesterday, bringing the death toll in the catastrophe off Italy's Tuscan coast to 11.

The victims were found at the stern of the ship under water and after search-and-rescue divers blasted holes in the hull of the ship to access the lower decks.

Before the bodies were discovered authorities had said that 29 people were missing. Also among the missing was a 5-year-old girl. The victims recovered yesterday were not immediately identified.

2-4 weeks to remove fuel
>> Italian naval divers on Tuesday exploded holes in the hull of a cruise ship grounded off a Tuscan island to speed the search for 29 missing people while seas were still calm. One official said there was still a "glimmer of hope" that survivors could be found. A Dutch shipwreck salvage firm, meanwhile, said it would take its engineers and divers two to four weeks to extract the 500,000 gallons of fuel aboard the Costa Concordia, which ran aground Friday. The safe removal of the fuel has become a priority, as the wreckage site lies in a maritime sanctuary for dolphins, porpoises and whales. 

Divers blast hole to rescue survivors
>> Navy explosives experts have blown a series of holes in the hull of the cruise liner to allow divers searching for passengers better access to flooded lower cabins. After local officials raised the tally of missing passengers from 16 to 29, the divers blew a first hole in the landward side of the vessel. Four holes were planned along the 290-metre length of the ship, which will give divers who are searching deep inside the submerged part of the liner a quick escape route if the vessel slips into deeper waters.

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