Rescue Operations on Costa Cruise Ship Suspended
Five days after the initial crash, with several passengers still unaccounted for, rescue workers were forced to suspend search operations onboard the Costa Concordia after the ship shifted slightly on the rocks where it ran aground. Early in the morning on Wednesday January 18, instruments attached to the Concordia detected the slight shift, even though search and rescue crews working above water level were not able to notice any movement.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Coast Guard Commander Filippo Marini reacted to the information by postponing all on-board operations. "As a precautionary measure, we stopped the operations this morning, in order to verify the data we retrieved from our detectors, and understand if there actually was a movement, and if there has been one, how big this was," he said.
Officials are, however, hopeful that new data will reflect that the ship has resettled, allowing the search for missing passengers to resume. Despite five bodies being recovered from the ship on January 17, twenty four individuals are still unaccounted for.
In the meantime, trouble deepens for ship captain Francesco Schettino, placed on house arrest late Tuesday evening after appearing before a judge with his lawyer, Bruno Leporatti, for extended questioning. During that questioning, Schettino admitted that, at the time of the accident, he was, "navigating by sight because I knew the depths well and I had done this maneuver three or four times. But this time I ordered the turn too late and I ended up in water that was too shallow. I don't know why it happened. I was a victim of my instincts," Businessinsider.com reports.
During questioning, the captain also claimed that he abandoned ship by mistake, saying, "I was trying to get people to get into the boats in an orderly fashion. Suddenly, since the ship was at a 60-70° angle, I tripped and I ended up in one of the boats. That's how I found myself in the lifeboat," the Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported.
Criminal charges against Schettino, including manslaughter and abandoning ship, are expected to be filed by prosecutors in the next few days. Mr. Schettino faces a possible 12 years in prison if convicted of the abandoning ship charge alone.
Many are speculating that the Costa Concordia cruise ship accident will become one of the largest maritime-related insurance losses in recordable history. If you have been one of the victims of the accident or if you have lost a loved one, then it is in your best interests to seek legal representation from a maritime attorney from Arnold & Itkin immediately. We have proven to be advocates for the rights of victims and are prepared to go the distance in our fight for you. Contact a cruise ship accident lawyer from our firm today if you would like to discuss your situation and the legal options available to you.