Grosseto

Costa Concordia hearing underway for captain, crew

Capsized cruise ship 'secure' in 10 days, salvage clock ticks

Costa Concordia hearing underway for captain, crew

(ANSA) - Grosseto, October 15 - Francesco Schettino, the captain of the cruise liner Costa Concordia that ran aground on a Tuscan island in January killing 32 people, appeared in court Monday as hearings to decide whether to indict him and others for the shipwreck began. Schettino is under investigation for multiple manslaughter, abandoning his post before the evacuation of all 4,200 passengers and crew had been completed and failing to communicate properly with the maritime authorities. The ex-captain, who was sacked last week by the Costa Crociere parent company, arrived 20 minutes early, entering through a side door of the Teatro Moderno in the Tuscan town of Grosseto where the proceedings are taking place. The judge who oversaw preliminary investigations, Valeria Montesarchio, is also presiding over hearings, which are scheduled to last about seven days. Schettino's second in command, Ciro Ambrosio, officer Salvatore Ursino and the head of the Costa Cruises fleet, Roberto Ferrarini, who are also being investigated, were present in court with their attorneys. Monday's closed-door hearing examined testimonies, the contents of the ship's black box. A survivor of the shipwreck, Ernesto Carusotti commented outside the court that "Schettino has his responsibility, but behind the tragedy there are other failings that someone must answer to". In an unexpected turn, a survivor shook hands with Schettino. The former passenger rose on the stage of the Teatro Moderno and the ex-captain took to his feet to shake the passenger's hand. The two exchanged a few words before Schettino returned to the bench of the defence, and the passenger returned to the audience. Meanwhile the carcass of the ship remains off the coast of Giglio as workers hurry to clean up the wreckage of Italy's worst maritime disaster since World War II. Salvage workers are scheduled to finish securing the ship within 10 days, workers said Monday. US-based Titan Salvage and the Italian firm Micoperi originally planned to complete the phase by August 31. The next phase involves installing a series of floating platforms inside the half-sunken vessel. Salvagers are aiming to completely remove the ship carcass in time for Giglio's 2013 summer tourism season.

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