An audio recording of phone calls early Saturday morning between the captain of the cruise liner grounded off the coast of Tuscany and port officials has been released, in which the coast guard is heard demanding the captain return to his ship.
Captain Francesco Schettino will appear in an Italian court in Grosseto on Tuesday, where a judge will decide if he is to remain jailed. Schettino is accused of causing the wreck and of abandoning the Costa Concordia before all 4,200 people on board were safely evacuated after the vessel capsized on Friday night. He may face multiple manslaughter charges.
Five more bodies were found on board the wreck Tuesday, raising the toll to 11.
The newspaper Corriere della Sera has posted online what it states is an audio recording and transcript of phone communications early Saturday morning between Schettino and the Coast Guard commander at the port of Livorno, who is heard pleading with the captain to return to his ship until all aboard had been safely evacuated.
In a translation released by Reuters, Gregorio De Falco, the port captain at Livorno, is heard ordering Schettino - who said he was in a lifeboat - back to the Costa Concordia:
Coast Guard: "Listen Schettino, there are people trapped on board. Now you need to go on your life boat, under the bow of the ship on the side. There is a ladder. You need to climb up the ladder and board the ship. Get on board and report to me how many people there are. Is that clear?. . . . "
Schettino: "At this moment the ship is tilted."
Coast Guard: "I understand. Listen, there are people who are coming down the ladder on the bow. Go back in the opposite direction, get back on the ship, and tell me how many people there are and what they have on board. . . . Tell me if there are children, women and what type of help they need. And you tell me the number of each of these categories. Is that clear? . . . Listen Schettino, perhaps you have saved yourself from the sea but I will make you look very bad. I will make you pay for this. Dammit, go back on board!"
Schettino: "Please . . . "
Coast Guard: "There is no please about it. Go back on board. Assure me you are going back on board!"
Schettino: "I am in the life boat, under the ship, I haven't gone anywhere, I'm here."
Coast Guard: "What are you doing?"
Schettino: "I am coordinating . . . "
Coast Guard: "What are you coordinating there? Go on board! Coordinate the rescue from on board! Are you refusing?"
Schettino: "No, I am not refusing."
Coast Guard: "Tell me the reason why you are not going back on board."
Schettino: "There is another life boat ... "
Coast Guard: "You go back on board! That is an order! There is nothing else for you to consider. You have sounded the 'abandon ship.' Now I am giving the orders. Go back on board. Is that clear? Don't you hear me?"
Schettino: "I am going on board."
Coast Guard: "Go! Call me immediately when you are on board. My rescue people are in front of the bow."
The Coast Guard said Schettino defied their entreaties to return to his ship as the chaotic evacuation of some 4,200 people was in progress.Corriere della Sera also reports that the crew mutinied, ordering passengers into lifeboats before the captain issued an abandon ship order.
After the ship's tilt put many life rafts out of service, helicopters plucked to safety dozens of people still aboard, hours after Schettino was seen leaving the vessel.
The captain has insisted in an interview before his jailing that he stayed with the vessel to the end. He noted that 4,200 people managed to evacuate a listing ship at night within two hours. In addition, the ship's evacuation procedures had been reviewed last November by an outside firm and port authorities and no faults were found, he said.
The cruise operator has said Schettino strayed from the ship's authorized course into waters too close to the perilous reef.
The nautical version of a "fly by" was apparently a favor to the chief waiter who is from Giglio and whose parents live on the island, local media reported. Prosecutor Francesco Verusio called Schettino's maneuver "reckless" and "inexcusable."
Costa Crociere chairman and CEO Pier Luigi Foschi said the company would provide Schettino with legal assistance, but he disassociated Costa from his behavior, saying it broke rules.
Foschi didn't respond directly to prosecutors' and passengers' accusations that Schettino abandoned ship before all passengers had been evacuated, but he suggested his conduct wasn't as bad in the hours of the evacuation as has been portrayed. He didn't elaborate.