* Schettino says he was ordered to sail close to shore
* Woman's body found in bow section
* Known death toll is 13, with at least 20 unaccounted for
* First signs of low-level pollution from wreck
(Adds comment from Costa chief executive, details)
By Antonella Cinelli
GIGLIO, Italy, Jan 22 The operators of the
Costa Concordia faced questions over their share of the blame
for the shipwreck, as divers recovered another body from the
stricken liner on Sunday, bringing the known death toll to 13.
Captain Francesco Schettino is accused of steering the 290
metre-long cruise ship too close to shore while performing a
manoeuvre known as a "salute" in which liners draw up very close
to land to make a display.
Schettino, who is charged with multiple manslaughter and
with abandoning ship before the evacuation of 4,200 passengers
and crew was complete, has told prosecutors he had been
instructed to perform the manoeuvre by operator Costa Cruises.
Prosecutors say he steered the massive ship within 150
metres of the Tuscan island of Giglio, where it struck a rock
that tore a large gash in its hull, letting water flood in and
causing the 114,500-tonne ship to capsize.
It is now lying on its side on an undersea ledge,
half-submerged and posing a growing environmental threat with
the risk that it could slide into deeper waters.
As the search continued into a ninth day, divers found the
body of a woman on a submerged deck near the bow of the vessel,
bringing the total number of known dead to 13, only eight of
whom have been identified.
As the days have passed, there have been growing questions
about the ultimate responsibility for the accident, which Costa
Cruises has blamed on "unfortunate human error" and placed
firmly on the shoulders of the captain. It has suspended
Schettino and will not be paying his legal fees.
Costa chief executive Pier Luigi Foschi has said that ships
sometimes engage in "tourist navigation" in which they approach
the coast but that this is only done under safe conditions and
he was not aware of any riskier approaches so close to the
Costa is a unit of Carnival Corp, the world's
largest cruise line operator.
According to transcripts of his hearing with investigators
leaked to Italian newspapers, Schettino told magistrates Costa
had insisted on the manoeuvre to please passengers and attract
"It was planned, we were supposed to have done it a week
earlier but it was not possible because of bad weather,"
Schettino said, according to the Corriere della Sera daily.
"They insisted. They said: 'We do tourist navigation, we
have to be seen, get publicity and greet the island'."
He said he had performed similar manoeuvres regularly over
the past four months on the Costa Concordia and on other ships
in the Costa fleet along the Italian coast line which is dotted
with small islands that are popular with tourists.
"But we do it every time we do the Sorrento coast, Capri, we
do it everywhere," he said.
Foschi, who visited Giglio on Sunday, declined to respond to
"As an investigation by magistrates is currently underway,
we cannot give out any information," he said.
BROKEN BLACK BOXES
Italian newspapers have also published photographs of the
Costa Concordia apparently performing the "salute" close to
other ports including Syracuse in Sicily and the island of
Procida, which is near Naples and Schettino's hometown of Meta
Schettino said the fatal manoeuvre of Jan. 13 was originally
intended to bring the ship half a mile from the shore, "but then
we brought it to 0.28" (of a nautical mile), he said.
Investigators have said the actual point of impact was much
closer to the shore but establishing the exact sequence of
events could be complicated by problems with the recording
equipment used to track the ship's progress.
Schettino said the black box on board had been broken for
two weeks and he had asked for it to be repaired, in vain.
In the hearing, Schettino insisted he had informed Costa's
headquarters of the accident straight away and his line of
conduct had been approved by the company's marine operations
director throughout a series of phone conversations.
He acknowledged, however, not raising the alarm with the
coastguard promptly and delaying the evacuation order.
"You can't evacuate people on lifeboats and then, if the
ship doesn't sink, say it was a joke. I don't want to create
panic and have people die for nothing," he said.
Costa says Schettino lied to the company and his own crew
about the scale of the emergency.
Documents from his hearing with a judge say he had shown
"incredible carelessness" and a "total inability to manage the
successive phases of the emergency".
Taped conversations show ship's officers told coastguards
who were alerted by passengers that the vessel had only had a
power cut, even after those on board donned lifevests.
For graphics, click on
Adding to the growing debate about the ship's safety
standards, Franco Gabrielli - head of Italy's Civil Protection
authority which is coordinating the rescue operations - said a
number of unregistered passengers may have been on board.
Relatives of a missing Hungarian woman told authorities she
was on the Costa Concordia with a member of the crew, but her
name was not on the list of passengers, he said.
"In theory, there could be an unknown number of people who
were on the ship and have not been reported missing because they
were not registered," Gabrielli said.
Of the 13 bodies found, only 8 had been identified - four
French nationals, an Italian, a Hungarian, a German and a
Spaniard. At least 20 people are still unaccounted for.
Minor pollution from detergents and disinfectants aboard the
shipwreck had been detected in the waters around the vessel but
there was no sign that the heavy fuel in its tanks was leaking,
He said tests were being carried out daily on the waters
around the ship and a nearby desalination plant that provides
drinking water for the island's residents.
"The tests for toxic substances are negative so far,"
Gabrielli said. "The only significant elements detected, which
luckily are not worrying yet, relate to ... detergents and
disinfectants used on the ship, for the swimming pool or to
clean the bathrooms for example."
Environment experts have warned that contamination of the
pristine waters around Giglio, which is in the middle of a
national marine park, is already under way and it is imperative
to start recovering the fuel oil as soon as possible.
(Writing by Silvia Aloisi and James Mackenzie; Editing by