ROME -- Court-appointed experts have squarely blamed the captain of a cruise ship that ran aground off Italy for the wreckage and deaths of 32 people, but they also faulted the crew and shipowner for a series of blunders, delays and safety breaches that contributed to the disaster.
The Costa Concordia ran aground and capsized off the Tuscan island of Giglio on Jan. 13 after Capt. Francesco Schettino took it off course and brought it close to the island as part of a stunt. He is accused of manslaughter, causing the shipwreck and abandoning the ship before all passengers were evacuated.
Eight other people, among them crew members and Costa's crisis co-ordinator, are also under investigation. The court in Grosseto ordered the expert investigation to help it determine who, if anyone, should be put on trial.
In a 270-page analysis, the four experts described in second-by-second detail the unfolding disaster as Schettino slowly came to realize the gravity of the situation. Using data and voice recorders to reconstruct the drama on the bridge, the report showed how Schettino failed to grasp for 45 minutes repeated reports from his crew that his ship was flooding and its motors dead.
The analysis came out Wednesday and was placed online Thursday by the Rome daily La Repubblica.
The experts determined Schettino should have given the "abandon ship" order at 10 p.m. that night, 15 minutes after the 9:45 p.m. grounding. Instead, the evacuation order went out at 10:43 p.m. By that time, passengers on their own had already reported to their muster stations with life-jackets on.
-- The Associated Press