Grosseto

Prosecutor says 'hand of god' prevented worse ship disaster

Day three of hearings into Costa Concordia sinking

Prosecutor says 'hand of god' prevented worse ship disaster

(ANSA) - Grosseto, October 17 - Only the "hand of God" saved the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster from claiming more lives than it did when it sank in January, killing 32 people, a prosecutor working on the case said Wednesday. "It was the hand of God that drew the Costa Concordia towards Giglio island after the collision with the rocks at Giglio, not Captain (Francesco) Schettino's manoeuvre", prosecutor Francesco Verusio said on day three of preliminary hearings in the case. "If there was no wind that night, the ship would have capsized and sunk in a minute (with 4,200 people on board). "He had no propulsion and the rudders were locked, he was saved only by the momentum". Schettino has admitting to making mistakes on the night of the disaster but said it was his efforts to steer the ship close to the Tuscan island that saved many lives. On Tuesday the court heard expert testimony that Schettino had had "time and room" to avoid crashing the Costa Concordia into a rock formation. However, Schettino "failed to react...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. Schettino smiled and joked with photographers on his way to the third day of hearings in the Tuscan city of Grossetto. "I'm fine, do not worry," Schettino called to a photographer shooting his entrance into the hearings. Surrounded by his lawyers, he wished a friendly "good morning" to the journalists and crowd gathered outside the court where 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. 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. Hearings are scheduled to last about seven days. Meanwhile, 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. In separate probes, prosecutors in Grosseto are reportedly investigating the alleged theft of items from the wreck of the Concordia by scuba-diving looters.

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