Four NYers Among Survivors Of Sinking Italian Cruise Ship; Search Continues For Others
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Four New Yorkers are safe following their evacuation from the cruise ship that ran aground in Italy.
Joan, Brian and Alana Aho of Duanesburg, New York, made it off the ship during Friday’s emergency. But they told a friend, Cheryl Ratner, that there was panic all around them. Another passenger ripped a life jacket out of Joan Aho’s hands.
Ratner tells The Daily Gazette of Schenectady her friends had trouble reaching the U.S. embassy to get replacement passports. They finally got plane tickets for Albany, Georgia, instead of Albany, New York.
Meanwhile, off the Tuscan island of Giglio, divers from the Italian Navy used controlled explosions to open parts of the Costa Concordia ‘s hull, according to CBS News correspondent Anna Matranga.
PHOTOS: Costa Concordia Runs Aground
“This route will allow us also to be faster to go and reach the single corner of the boat,” said Fire Captain Luciano Roncalli.
Crews are in the water searching the submerged part of the ship. They’re also navigating through upside down rooms and debris up top as they look for those missing, including a couple from Minnesota.
“We hope if someone is still alive, we can find them,” said Roncalli.
More than 4,000 people escaped the Costa Concordia Friday night after it hit a rock and started to tip. Infrared images show passengers using rope ladders to climb down the side of the ship to safety in the dark.
The death toll nearly doubled to 11 on Tuesday when divers located five more bodies, all of them adults wearing life jackets, in the rear of the ship near an emergency evacuation point, according to Italian Coast Guard Cmdr. Cosimo Nicastro. He said they were thought to have been passengers.
Prior to the discovery of the five bodies, the coast guard had raised the number of missing to 25 passengers and four crew. Italian officials gave the breakdown as: 14 Germans, six Italians, four French, two Americans, one Hungarian, one Indian and one Peruvian.
There are also more questions about the behavior of the ship’s captain.
In a newly-released phone call, Capt. Gregorio De Falco, an Italian Coast Guard official, angrily orders Captain Francesco Schettino, commander of the grounded Costa Concordia, back to the ship to help stranded passengers. Schettino was already in a lifeboat.
Below is a translation of that phone call:
De Falco: “This is De Falco speaking from Livorno. Am I speaking with the commander?”
Schettino: “Yes. Good evening, Cmdr. De Falco.”
De Falco: “Please tell me your name.”
Schettino: “I’m Cmdr. Schettino, commander.”
De Falco: “Schettino? Listen Schettino. There are people trapped on board. Now you go with your boat under the prow on the starboard side. There is a pilot ladder. You will climb that ladder and go on board. You go on board and then you will tell me how many people there are. Is that clear? I’m recording this conversation, Cmdr. Schettino—”
Schettino: “Commander, let me tell you one thing—”
De Falco: “Speak up! Put your hand in front of the microphone and speak more loudly, is that clear?”
Schettino: “In this moment, the boat is tipping—”
De Falco: “I understand that, listen, there are people that are coming down the pilot ladder of the prow. You go up that pilot ladder, get on that ship and tell me how many people are still on board. And what they need. Is that clear? You need to tell me if there are children, women or people in need of assistance. And tell me the exact number of each of these categories. Is that clear? Listen Schettino, that you saved yourself from the sea, but I am going to—really do something bad to you—I am going to make you pay for this. Go on board, (expletive)!”
Schettino: “Commander, please—”
De Falco: “No, please. You now get up and go on board. They are telling me that on board there are still—”
Schettino: “I am here with the rescue boats, I am here, I am not going anywhere, I am here—”
De Falco: “What are you doing, commander?”
Schettino: “I am here to coordinate the rescue—”
De Falco: “What are you coordinating there? Go on board! Coordinate the rescue from aboard the ship. Are you refusing?”
Schettino: “No, I am not refusing.”
De Falco: “Are you refusing to go aboard commander? Can you tell me the reason why you are not going?”
Schettino: “I am not going because the other lifeboat is stopped.”
De Falco: “You go aboard. It is an order. Don’t make any more excuses. You have declared ‘abandon ship.’ Now I am in charge. You go on board! Is that clear? Do you hear me? Go, and call me when you are aboard. My air rescue crew is there.”
Schettino: “Where are your rescuers?”
De Falco: “My air rescue is on the prow. Go. There are already bodies, Schettino.”
Schettino: “How many bodies are there?”
De Falco: “I don’t know. I have heard of one. You are the one who has to tell me how many there are. Christ.”
Schettino: “But do you realize it is dark and here we can’t see anything—”
De Falco: “And so what? You want go home, Schettino? It is dark and you want to go home? Get on that prow of the boat using the pilot ladder and tell me what can be done, how many people there are and what their needs are. Now!”
Schettino: “—I am with my second in command.”
De Falco: “So both of you go up then — You and your second go on board now. Is that clear?”
Schettino: “Commander, I want to go on board, but it is simply that the other boat here — there are other rescuers. It has stopped and is waiting—”
De Falco: “It has been an hour that you have been telling me the same thing. Now, go on board. Go on board! And then tell me immediately how many people there are there.”
Schettino: “OK, commander”
De Falco: “Go, immediately!”
But it’s not clear if the captain ever returned. Schettino has come under heavy fire. The company that owns the cruise liner says he did not follow the approved route and human error likely caused the deadly accident.
A judge questioned the captain behind closed doors on Tuesday. Schettino faces several charges including causing a shipwreck, abandoning ship and manslaughter. He could face up to 12 years in prison on the abandoning ship charge alone.
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