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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Couple rescued, ship captain held

Sulaiman Kamal | 4:37 PM | | | Best Blogger Tips

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The ship ran aground near the island of Giglio, off the Tuscan coast, late on Friday

A honeymoon couple have been rescued from the capsized cruise liner in Italy as the ship's captain and first officer are being held by police on suspicion of manslaughter.
The South Korean newlyweds were stranded two decks below on the half-submerged Costa Concordia but were brought to shore from the liner a day after the disaster.
Rescuers who had been banging on the doors of the ship cabins saved a South Korean newlywed couple
in the non-submerged part of the vessel heard a reply in the early hours of this morning, a fire chief said.
The couple, in their late twenties, were said to be in good health.

Meanwhile, rescuers are continuing their race to find about 40 people still unaccounted for after the ship ran aground near the island of Giglio, off the Tuscan coast, late on Friday.
The stricken ship's captain Francesco Schettino has been detained and being questioned on suspicion of multiple manslaughter as well as abandoning ship while passengers were still in danger.
After the ship began sinking, Capt Schettino gave the order to abandon the 290m-long ship with seven short whistles.
It has also emerged that the 52-year-old captain was at least four miles off course.
Local prosecutor Francesco Verusio said the Costa Concordia had approached Giglio "the wrong way" and had struck a reef on its left hand side causing it to take in an "enormous amount of water in a matter of minutes".
Sources in the prosecutor's office said Capt Schettino, from Naples, had abandoned the ship at ''around 23.30'' while the last passengers were not taken to safety until 3am the following morning.
Captain Francesco Schettino has been detained and is being questioned on suspicion of multiple manslaughter
There have been claims from furious passengers that the evacuation was "chaotic" and carried out amid scenes of panic with some comparing it to the Titanic - whose 100 year anniversary is in three months' time.
Capt Schettino told maritime investigators that charts showed he was in waters deep enough to navigate and that he had struck an unidentified rocky outcrop of the island.
He said once he realised the extent of the damage he immediately tried to change route and head for the safety of Giglio harbour.
However within minutes, the Costa Concordia began to list and a few hours later it was virtually on its side.
Capt Schettino was quoted by Italian news sources as saying: "The area was safe, the water was deep enough.
"We struck a stretch of rock that was not marked on the charts. As far as I am concerned we were in perfectly navigable waters."
Rescuers are continuing their race to find about 40 people still unaccounted for
Capt Schettino's lawyer Bruno Leporatti said: "'My client understands the reasons why he has been detained but as his legal representative I would to like to say that several hundred people owe their lives to the skill of the commander of the Costa Concordia.
''I say that because you have to be very clever to steer a ship that is 117,000 tonnes and 300 metres long, especially one that has been damaged after a collision - he negotiated the vessel closer to the shore therefore ensuring a faster rescue operation and enabling hundreds of people to be saved.
''In my opinion that was a brilliant manoeuvre from a nautical point of view.''
Five helicopters and nearby ships plucked people to safety after they became trapped on the ship when it listed so badly they could not launch lifeboats.
Chief executive of Costa Cruises, Gianni Onorato, said the liner hit a rock and then the captain "decided to bring the ship to safety before ordering its evacuation".
He added: "Unfortunately, the fast tilting of the vessel interrupted the evacuation by the use of lifeboats.
"That's when events started escalating and that required the Italian coast guard to intervene, this and the rescue operations were handed over to the authorities."
This picture shows Costa Concordia leaning on its side after running aground
As the ship began to list heavily to one side, coastguards were immediately dispatched to the scene while terrified passengers were ordered to put on lifejackets and man lifeboats.
Helicopters, coastguard vessels and passing ships were used in the evacuation but many people jumped into the icy seas once the order to abandon had been sounded and some were injured after spending several minutes in the water.
Survivors of the disaster have described chaotic scenes "like something out of theTitanic" as the Costa Concordia tilted and started to sink.
Pictures showed a massive gash in the hull more than 45m long. There was a huge rock embedded in the side and the liner was on its side.
Three people are known to have died after the ship, which was carrying 4,234 people, including British holidaymakers, apparently struck a rock.
The dead have reportedly been identified as two French passengers and one Peruvian crewman.
One of the victims was a man aged in his 70s who is thought to have died of a heart attack caused by the shock of the icy water when he dived in during the chaos.
A further 14 people were injured, mostly suffering bruises, authorities said.

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