Concordia captain to return to wreck

By Phil Davies 

Concordia captain to return to wreckThe captain of the doomed Costa Concordia is due to return to the wreck today (Thursday).

Judges in the city of Grosseto agreed to a request by lawyers for Francesco Schettino, who demanded that he takes part in a survey of the ship.

The request came as a team of lawyers and experts were due to inspect an emergency power unit on the 11th deck of the Concordia, which allegedly did not work on the night of the shipwreck in January 2012.

It will be his first time back on the ship since it hit rocks off the island of Giglio in January 2012 and capsized, killing 32 people.

The visit is part of an investigation at Schettino’s trial, where he is accused of manslaughter and abandoning ship. He denies the charges. If found guilty he could face up to 20 years in prison.

Schettino is due to board along with inspectors, but will not be allowed to interfere with their investigation. He would be allowed onto the ship “as a defendant, not a consultant”, said Judge Giovanni Puliatti.

The captain has been accused of leaving the vessel before all 4,229 people on board had been evacuated. But he denies abandoning the ship after it hit a reef near the island.

He maintains he managed to steer the stricken vessel closer to shore so it did not sink in deep water where hundreds might have drowned.

An Italian court convicted five others of manslaughter last July.

They had all successfully entered plea bargains, while Schettino’s request for a plea bargain was denied by the prosecution.

Concordia was set upright in an unprecedented salvage operation known as parbuckling in September.

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Costa Concordia set to be pulled upright

Costa Concordia set to be pulled upright

By Phil Davies

Costa Concordia set to be pulled uprightA delicate operation to try to pull the shipwrecked Costa Concordia upright is going ahead today.

This morning’s work was delayed by two hours due to an overnight storm.

But the Italian Civil Protection agency said sea and weather conditions were right to start the salvage attempt off the island of Giglio.

Salvage teams are attaching giant metal chains and cables to the ship, which weighs more than 114,000 tonnes and is roughly the length of three football fields.

Head of the operation, Nick Sloane, told AFP news agency that it was now or never for the Costa Concordia, because the hull was gradually weakening and might not survive another winter.

Engineers will try to roll the ship up using cables and the weight of water contained in huge metal boxes welded to the ship’s sides – a process called parbuckling.

Costa Concordia capsized killing 32 people in January 2012 when the vessel hit rocks.

Five people have already been convicted of manslaughter over the disaster, and the ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, is currently on trial accused of manslaughter and abandoning ship.