The Telegraph
Thursday , January 19 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Twist in Costa captain’s tale

Giglio (Italy), Jan. 18: A farcical new twist emerged from the horrific accounts of the wreck with the captain rebutting accusations that he abandoned ship by saying he tripped during the passenger panic on deck, fell overboard and ended up in a life boat.

The new explanation by the captain, Francesco Schettino, for why he vacated the $450 million vessel after he smashed into the rocks last Friday night, came as his earlier account of hitting an uncharted obstruction received a credible boost.

Lloyd’s List, a leading maritime publication, said today the ship had sailed close to the island on a previous occasion in August of last year, when it came within 230 metres of the coast “slightly closer to the shore than where it subsequently hit rocks on Friday”.

In a remarkable admission, Captain Schettino was quoted by the La Repubblica newspaper as telling investigators that he had not planned to leave the ship as it tilted towards the water.

“The passengers were pouring onto the decks, taking the lifeboats by assault,” he said. “I didn’t even have a life jacket because I had given it to one of the passengers. I was trying to get people to get into the boats in an orderly fashion. Suddenly, since the ship was at a 60 to 70 degree angle, I tripped and I ended up in one of the boats. That’s how I found myself there.”