The captain of grounded ship Costa Concordia is reported in Italian media as admitting making a navigation mistake.
Francesco Schettino is reported as telling investigators he had “ordered the turn too late” as the ship carrying 4,200 passengers and crew sailed close to an island, according to a leaked interrogation transcript.
The captain reportedly told the investigating judge in the city of Grosseto that he had decided to sail close to Giglio to salute a former captain who had a home on the Tuscan island.
“I was navigating by sight because I knew the depths well and I had done this manoeuvre three or four times," he reportedly said. “But this time I ordered the turn too late and I ended up in water that was too shallow. I don't know why it happened.”
Schettino claims he tripped and fell from the listing vessel and never intended to abandon his passengers.
The captain, who was jailed after he left the ship before everyone was safely evacuated, was placed under house arrest on Tuesday, facing possible charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his ship.
His lawyer Bruno Leporatti said Schettino was “a deeply shaken man, not only for the loss of his ship, which for a captain is a grave thing, but above all for what happened and the loss of human life”.
Costa has accused Schettino of causing the wreck by making an unapproved detour.
New audio of Schettino's communications with the coastguard during the crisis emerged, with the captain claiming he ended up in a life raft after he tripped and fell into the water.
“I did not abandon a ship with 100 people on board; the ship suddenly listed and we were thrown into the water," Schettino said, according to a transcript published in the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
Eleven people are known to have died in the accident but the search for 21 people still unaccounted for was halted yesterday after the ship shifted again on rocks, making it too dangerous for divers to continue. Rough seas were forecast for the next few days.
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