Expert says captain had time to avoid Concordia crash

Second day of hearings to decide on indictment for Schettino

Expert says captain had time to avoid Concordia crash

(ANSA) - Grosseto, October 16 - Captain Francesco Schettino had "time and room" to avoid crashing the Costa Concordia into a rock formation but "failed to react", declared an expert witness on Tuesday at hearings in the Tuscan city of Grosseto. "There was plenty of space, a huge amount of water and time to approach and take (the ship) out of danger," testified Admiral Giuseppe Cavo Dragone. "The maneuver after the impact was completely fortuitous because the ship was (by then) out of control," Dragone told Judge Valeria Montesarchio, who had asked for clarification on whether the ship could maneuver or stop at moment of the accident. Hearings began Monday to decide whether to indict Schettino and others on criminal charges related to the cruise ship that ran aground off the Tuscan island of Giglio in January killing 32 people. 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. Schettino's second in command, Ciro Ambrosio, officer Salvatore Ursino and the head of the Costa Cruises fleet, Roberto Ferrarini, are also being investigated. The proceedings are taking place in the Teatro Moderno in the Tuscan town of Grosseto. Hearings are scheduled to last about seven days. Schettino waved to TV cameras on Tuesday before attending the second day of preliminary hearings into the disaster. On Monday, Schettino entered the Grosseto theatre where the hearings are being held by a side door to avoid being mobbed by the media. It emerged last week that he was sacked by the Costa Cruises parent company in July. He is suing the company for unfair dismissal. Costa Cruises said on Tuesday that it has reached compensation deals with 67% of the 3,050 passengers who did not suffer physical injury in the shipwreck of the Concordia liner in January. The compensation packages are thought to average 14,000 euros". The additional 23% (of uninjured survivors) includes those who have not accepted our proposal and those who have not yet answered, while 10% are taking legal action," Costa Cruises said. "The families of the deceased and guests who were injured and requested medical attention received a separate proposal that takes into consideration the individual cases". In separate probes, prosecutors in the Tuscan city of Grosseto are reportedly investigating the alleged theft of items from the wreck of the Concordia by scuba-diving looters. Mediaset television's Tg24 news channel said the prosecutors had opened a file on the disappearance of objects from the semi-submerged part of the liner. The first thing police divers noticed had gone missing was a beautiful brass bell from the bridge of the ship. The looters also reportedly broke windows of shops inside the ship and stole jewellery and watches. Pictures, clocks and various items of furniture are said to have disappeared too.

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