Costa Concordia: Dry Francesco Schettino was saved by the ‘effect of gravity’
LISA Cameron Smith saw the Costa Concordia founder. She lives on Giglio, the island where the Italian cruise ship floundered. Thirty-two people died.
The conduct of skipper Francesco Schettino remains under the spotlight. She tells the Times:
“If I was him I would be on that boat. Probably, I would have been with those who died.”
“After a few minutes, people started jumping from the ship and came to the rocks — very wet and desperate. It was very difficult to get out of the water. It was very slippery, especially in shoes. We took our shoes off and starting taking people out of of the water. People were really in panic. We helped. There was good moonlight. People had flashlights from their lifejackets.
“We saw Schettino. He was surrounded by his group of men. They were in casual sailor-wear. He had black trousers and a blue wind jacket. He did not look as cold as the others. He and his group were dry. Everyone else was wet — kids, old people. Some people were having a heart attack because they were cold.”
How does she know if he was cold or not?
“He was out of his mind. The kind of calm that is not a good sign. He was shocked, definitely. He was all the time on the phone. Schettino was not trying to help. In Italy the high-ups do not help anybody. Captains do not do the dirty jobs.”
Blame Italy? Doesn’t blaming the culture excuse Schettino? It was he who told us:
“Unexpectedly, seeing that the boat was listing 60 or 70 degrees, I stumbled and ended up in one of those lifeboats. That’s why I found myself there.”
He fell into a lifeboat.
Mr Schettino hit back at his critics this week, complaining that he was treated “worse than Osama bin Laden”. Confined to his village on the Amalfi coast south of Naples while awaiting trial, the disgraced skipper is fighting to get his job back. He has put on weight and is said to be working on a book with his version of the disaster.
A book? With profits going to..?
He has revisited the idea that he fell into a lifeboat. He told La Stampa newspaper:
“I expressed myself badly. Clearly, I should have explained that it was a question of the effect of gravity.”
Man overboard! No paddle! Still, he made it to dry land ahead of many passengers. Why?
“I was waiting for helicopters to lift them off.”
A trial looms.
The cruise ship is still stranded a few tens of meters from the coast of Isola del Giglio.
Image 1: The former captain of the Costa Concordia luxury cruise ship Francesco Schettino arrives at the Teatro Moderno theater for the second hearing of a trial for the Jan. 13, 2012 shipwreck in which 32 people died, in Grosseto, Italy, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012. The case of Schettino, 51, is of such interest that a theater had to be turned into a courtroom to accommodate those who had a legitimate claim to be at the closed-door hearing. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Image 2: The cruise ship Costa Concordia, leaning on its side, is framed by a church bell tower in the Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy, Friday, Jan. 11, 2013. As if the nightmares, flashbacks and anxiety weren’t enough, passengers who survived the terrifying grounding and capsizing of the Costa Concordia off Tuscany have come in for a rude shock as they mark the first anniversary of the disaster on Sunday. Ship owner Costa Crociere SpA, the Italian unit of Miami-based Carnival Corp., sent several passengers a letter telling them they weren’t welcome at the official anniversary ceremonies on the island of Giglio where the hulking ship still rests. Costa says the day is focused on the families of the 32 people who died Jan. 13, 2012, not the 4,200 passengers and crew who survived. (AP Photo/Paolo Santalucia)