Grosseto, October 7 - The first mate of the Costa Concordia cruise ship on Monday told a Tuscan court that he and the cartographer were resting in their cabins "playing on their Playstations" when the giant liner smashed into a rock formation on Giglio Island off the Tuscan coast on January 13, 2012. Fifty-year-old Giovanni Iaccarino was the first of 1,040 witnesses listed to be heard in the trial against the ship's ex-captain, Francesco Schettino. Schettino is accused of multiple manslaughter and dereliction of duty for his role in the shipwreck that killed 32, forced the evacuation of thousands onboard, and caused massive economic damage to Costa Cruises and to Giglio Island, a popular Tuscan tourist destination where the massive ship crashed. Iaccarino and the Concordia's cartographer, Simone Canessa were both scheduled for questioning Monday as witnesses for the prosecution. Prosecutors in the theatre serving as courtroom in the Tuscan city of Grosseto alternated between live and videotaped testimony to reconstruct the dynamics of the fatal disaster. The videotape was filmed on the Costa Concordia's twin sister ship, the Costa Serena, a method of presenting evidence criticized by a court-appointed lawyer for the Concordia, Cesare Bulgheroni. In live testimony, Iaccarino recalled that at the moment of impact, he and Canessa were resting in their cabin. "We were playing on Playstation when we became aware of the ship hitting on the left, then on the right. Materials fell down. The sensation was like hitting aground or a collision. This was the impression I had at that moment," Iaccarino said of the moment of impact. Iaccarino was the first person to go check and find out that the engine room and bilge pumps were flooded - 11 minutes after impact - and to communicate the irreparable damage to the control room. Iaccarino also testified that Schettino ordered the ship to sail a half-mile from the shore of Giglio Island instead of the route's usual five-mile distance in the centre of the Argentario Canal. Iaccarino also testified that Schettino had wanted to maneuver toward the island seven days earlier, but that bad weather had disallowed it. Iaccarino said the ship's officers took charge of the new route, including the cartographer Canessa, who drew it on available nautical maps, taking into account Schettino's command to call him as soon as the ship was near the island, so that the commander could position himself in one of the ship's restaurants. In videotaped testimony, Iaccarino recalled, "Having gone down to the lower bridge and quickly checked the machine room, I saw that the diesel generators 1, 2 and 3" as well as the power plant and electric thrusters powered by diesel generators "were flooded". "Inside I had the feeling the ship was lost. I told Canessa the situation over the telephone. He was to have told the commander. The situation was grave," the first mate said in the video. "It was the second-in-command, Bosio, who told me to go look below. I don't believe Schettino was against it, otherwise I wouldn't have gone down," Iaccarino said in the video, adding that on the other side of the bulkhead "there was the sea", and that he was convinced that the other three diesel generators were flooded as well. Iaccarino said there was a blackout on the bridge. He reported radioing Bosio to say, "The water is continuing to rise". In the videotaped testimony Iaccarino also remembered that he heard an announcement saying things were under control at 22:04. Iaccarino recalled returning to the control room after the impact and saw that the instruments indicated that the ship "had gone from 16 knots to nine". "I looked at the nautical map and I saw that we were on a seabed near the rocks of Giglio. I looked at the panel and it was full of red lights. Then Commander Schettino put his hands in his hair and said, 'I messed up'," Iaccarino said.
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