Costa Concordia evacuation delay blamed for deaths

Francesco Schettino is accused of causing the shipwreck. Picture: Getty
Francesco Schettino is accused of causing the shipwreck. Picture: Getty
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THE failure of Costa Concordia’s captain to promptly order an evacuation of the cruise ship was the sole reason 32 people died, prosecutors said in their final arguments in court yesterday.

A verdict in the 19-month-old trial is expected this week. Francesco Schettino is accused of causing the 13 January, 2012 shipwreck near the Italian island of Giglio, manslaughter and abandoning ship before all 4,200 aboard were evacuated.

Prosecutor Alessandro Leo-pizzi contended there would have been time for everyone to survive had Schettino quickly ordered evacuation after the Concordia smashed into a reef when he steered too close to the tiny island near Tuscany. Instead, it was “each man for himself,” Mr Leopizzi said of the chaotic, delayed evacuation.

Schettino’s defence has argued equipment problems complicated evacuation, and that he wanted to steer the Concordia closer to port.

His lawyers seek acquittal for manslaughter and abandoning ship. Schettino has said the reef wasn’t on his nautical charts.

“There has never been someone so guilty” as Mr Schettino is, co-prosecutor Stefano Pizza said, and described the defendant’s conduct as “reprehensible.” Addressing the three-judge panel, he urged convictions on all counts and reiterated the prosecutors’ request for a 26-year prison term. Schettino must “learn (to accept) his responsibilities. All this time he has wanted to dump his responsibilities (on others)”, Mr Pizza said.

Mr Leopizzi said it took a few hours before the Concordia rolled over completely after seawater rushed through the gashed hull and listing made it impossible to lower lifeboats.


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