The extent of the chaos on the bridge of the Costa Concordia shortly after the ship ran aground off the coast of an Italian island in January has been revealed.
Captain Francesco Schettino and his deputy, Ciro Ambrosio, can be heard yelling conflicting instructions after the ship struck rocks close to the island of Giglio.
The recording was heard at the start of a pre-trial court hearing in the Tuscan town of Grosseto, where an investigation into the disaster in which 32 people died is taking place.
Although not heard on the clip itself, the 51-year-old captain is reported to have said ‘Let’s go and do a salute (to Giglio)’ before later telling an Indonesian helmsman to change course ‘otherwise we go on the rocks’, as the ship sailed dangerously close to the island.
Schettino can then be heard ordering the crew to shut the water-tight compartments in the bottom of the vessel. The audio clip continues, in a mix of Italian and English, with Schettino repeating his orders.
He is accused of causing the shipwreck, manslaughter and abandoning ship, but has defended his actions, claiming that many more lives would have been lost had he not steered the ship into shallower waters.
He denies the accusations and has not been charged. Any trial is unlikely to begin before next year.
A further eight people are also under investigation, including three executives from the ship’s parent company Costa Crociere.
Schettino used a back entrance to slip into the theatre where the pre-trial hearing is taking place, making no comment to reporters outside.
Court-appointed experts have laid most of the blame for the collision with the reef and the botched evacuation on Schettino.
He has defended his actions, saying many more would have died without his interventions
But it emerged that not all crew members understood Italian, not all had current safety and evacuation certification and not all passengers had had the chance to participate in evacuation drills.
Schettino's lawyers had sought to have the captain's Indonesian helmsman attend the hearing, but Judge Valeria Montesarchio turned down the request.
The hearing is expected to continue until tomorrow.
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