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Costa Concordia officials 'denied severity of situation'

Port authority chief cites discrepancies in deadly shipwreck

09 December, 15:39
Costa Concordia officials 'denied severity of situation' (ANSA) - Grosseto, December 9 - Coastguard Commander Gregorio De Falco said Monday that officials aboard the Costa Concordia, which crashed off Tuscany in early 2012, killing 32 people, admitted to serious problems only after being repeatedly contacted from land.

The Livorno port authority chief told a Grosseto court that "at 10:38 P.M. (the crash occurred at 9:45 P.M., Ed.) the ship issued distress signals. I called the ship because the situation seemed more worrisome than what they had claimed. It was only after this that they admitted there was a leak and not only a blackout. We then sent out boats and helicopters".

De Falco is well known for ordering the ship's captain, Francesco Schiettino, to "get back on board, dammit" during the rescue operations.

He told the court that on the evening of January 13, 2012, "while the ship reassured us that all was well on board, the Prato carabinieri police told us that a relative of a passenger had called to say that there were no lights on board, that passengers had been told to put on their life jackets and that things were falling over. "This was inconsistent with what the ship had declared. "This made us think that the situation was more serious, (but) no one from the Concordia called us to ask for help". The disaster occurred when an allegedly rash maneuver by Schettino resulted in the Concordia hitting a rock reef as the ship sailed close to Giglio Island to 'salute' local people.

Charges against him range from multiple manslaughter to dereliction of duty.