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Costa Concordia captain 'sorry' over disaster

Speaking on Italian TV, Francesco Schettino says he was sorry that 32 people died when his ship ran aground in January – but also blamed “destiny” for the tragedy.

The luxury cruise ship Costa Concordia leans on its side after running aground the tiny Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012
The luxury cruise ship Costa Concordia leans on its side after running aground the tiny Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012
Image: Gregorio Borgia/AP/Press Association Images

THE CAPTAIN OF a luxury cruise ship that ran aground off the Italian coast last January has said he is “sorry” over the disaster, which led to the deaths of 32 people.

However, speaking to private Italian television channel Canale 5, Francesco Schettino also described the incident as a “banal accident” in which “destiny” played a role.

Schettino, who was until recently under house arrest, has been severely criticised for his behaviour in connection with the tragedy. In the aftermath of the sinking, he was arrested on preliminary charges of multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck, failing to assist passengers, failing to be the last person to leave the ship, failing to relay the scope of the disaster to maritime officers and failing to help incapacitated passengers.

Prosecutors have claimed Schettino sailed too close to the island in an attempt to impress a young woman accompanying him, shortly before the cruise liner slammed into the rocks. When the impact occurred, Schettino was speaking on the phone.

When questioned about the phone call, Schettino said that he blamed himself for becoming “distracted” but insisted he had passed command over to a lower ranking official at that point, reports the BBC.

“At that moment, I went up to the bridge. I ordered the navigation to be manual, and I didn’t have the command. The navigation was being directed by the officer,” he said. “This is a banal accident in which destiny found space right in the interaction among human beings”.

When questioned about the youngest victim – a five-year-old girl – he could not answer and broke down.

Despite being released from house arrest last week, Schettino has been ordered by a judge to remain in his home town of Naples ahead of his possible trial.

A court hearing scheduled later this month will review evidence from the case, after which a judge will decide whether Schettino will stand trial.

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