Survivors Speak Of Cruise Disaster

Passengers rescued from the cruise liner that crashed into rocks off Italy have spoken of their shock as the ship's captain was placed under house arrest.

Captain Francesco Schettino is accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his ship while passengers were still stranded.

The death toll from Friday night's disaster rose to 11 yesterday as the bodies of four men and one woman were discovered by divers.

And the search of the ship was again suspended today as it has shifted in the sea.

The Costa Concordia is lodged on a rock face off the Tuscan coast but risks falling into the 230ft-deep water beyond it if it moves too much, police in the nearby city of Grosseto warned.

A spokeswoman said:

''It seems they have stopped the operation because the boat has moved a little bit. If the boat falls off the rock, there's a dangerous possibility it could break.''

It is the second time the search has had to be suspended after the position of the vessel shifted.

Meanwhile, survivors spoke of their shock as new details of the disaster emerged.

Retired police chief inspector Ed Gurd, 64, who was on the cruise with his wife Liz, 58, said he was ''surprised'' at hearing that the captain was ordered not to abandon the ship after it hit the rocks but had apparently already done so.

Mr Gurd, from Burley near Ringwood, said:

''If what I have heard is true, then obviously he totally failed in his duty.

''I wouldn't like to apportion blame until the facts are out but as things are emerging now, it seems more likely that he was at fault.

''It is very concerning about the way he might have been recruited or monitored.''

Mr Gurd said he had seen the captain earlier on in the cruise but not after it crashed.

He said: ''We'd seen him about, but didn't speak to him. A lot of people were getting their photos taken with him. I certainly didn't.''

He said he and his wife were separated after she went off in one life-raft but he did not get in one until an hour later.

During that time he saw many people with cuts and bruises and suffering from the effects of hypothermia, he said.

''Obviously things were getting more and more tense as the ship was listing more and more,'' he said.

He recalled fearing for his wife's safety while they were separated and the 15-minute wait to be reunited with her once they were on shore.

The number of those unaccounted for has fallen to 22 after one of the missing turned up in Germany and confirmed he was safe.

It is hoped there could be other similar cases but the prospect of finding anyone alive in the wreck was reduced as another day dawned.

The police spokeswoman said: ''A German person has arrived at home. The cruise company, Costa Crociere, phoned him at his house and he said 'I'm alive, I know you've been looking for me'.

''It's a possibility that there are some others alive like this but we can't say for certain.''

Another survivor, Brian Page, 63, from Southampton, said the allegations against the captain were hard to believe.

He said: ''What I think of him is unprintable, I'm so angry about it.

''We had no idea why the ship turned on its side.

''The whole thing is a massive cock-up.''


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