(GIGLIO, Italy) — An Italian newspaper is reporting that the captain of the ill-fated Costa Concordia, which ran aground off northern Italy on Jan. 13, is claiming that he was under orders to steer the luxury cruise liner near the island of Giglio.
Transcripts leaked to La Repubblica indicate that Francesco Schettino told an investigating judge that he only “saluted” the island because he was told to do so by ship owner Costa Crociere. As a result, the ship hit rocks, tearing a huge hole in its hull, which caused the Costa Concordia to list and topple over as thousands tried to frantically abandon ship.
Accused of manslaughter and causing a shipwreck, Schettino apparently told the judge that the owners were firm about carrying out the saluting maneuvers because it was a good way to promote the business.
So far, eight of 13 people known to have died in the accident have been identified with 19 people still unaccounted for, including an elderly couple from Minnesota. Divers don’t plan on ending the search for bodies until they check the entire ship.
Meanwhile, plans are imminent for removing fuel from the crippled vessel to avoid an environmental disaster.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Oren Liebermann, CNN Newswire
Rafael Romo and Patrick Gillespie, CNN