Costa Cruises says “significant human error” by the captain was to blame for the Costa Concordia tragedy.
A company statement last night said: “The route of the vessel appears to have been too close to the shore, and the captain's judgment in handling the emergency appears to have not followed standard Costa procedures.”
It came as the death toll from the ship after it ran aground off the coast of Italy on Friday night rose to six in addition to around 15 reported missing after three people were pulled from the wreckage yesterday.
All 22 British passengers and 12 crew have all now been accounted for.
As investigations into how the six year old ship came so close to rocks to develop a gash along the hull the size of a tennis court, the cruise industry will start counting the cost of the impact of the tragedy on bookings and cancellations.
The tragedy could not have occurred at a worst time for agents and cruise lines during the key peak booking period for summer 2012 cruises.
Costa Concordia, carrying more than 4,200 passengers and crew, was on the first night of a Mediterranean cruise from the port of Rome when it ran aground in calm conditions.
Costa said last night: “We are working with investigators to find out precisely what went wrong aboard the Costa Concordia.
“While the investigation is ongoing, preliminary indications are that there may have been significant human error on the part of the ship's Master, Captain Francesco Schettino, which resulted in these grave consequences.
“We are aware that the lead prosecutor has levelled serious accusations against the ship's captain, who joined Costa Crociere in 2002 as a Safety Officer and was appointed captain in 2006, after acting as staff captain as well. As all Costa Masters, he has been constantly trained passing all tests.
“In light of these accusations and the continuing investigation, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this time.”
The latest statement from the Italian line said: “As we are learning more about the event itself and the evacuation, however, it is becoming clear that the crew of the Costa Concordia acted bravely and swiftly to help evacuate more than 4,000 individuals during a very challenging situation. We are very grateful for all they have done.
“Our immediate priority is to account for all passengers and crew and to secure the vessel to ensure that there are no environmental impacts. We have engaged the services of a worldwide leader specialised salvage company to develop an action plan and help establish a protection perimeter around the ship.
“It should be noted that the prosecutor in charge has seized the ship and the DVR - so called ‘black box’ containing all navigation data - and the vessel can be accessed by Costa only with permission from the authorities.
“We are working closely with the authorities to support ongoing search and rescue operations, and are focusing on ensuring that all guests and crew members return home safely.”
Further details of the disaster are due to be given at a press conference later today (Monday).
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