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i-maritime news letter

Hard disk from shipwreck may shed light on captain's role - 2012-01-23

Divers have salvaged a hard disk from Italy's capsized cruise ship with video footage that could shed light on the captain's actions, as another body was pulled from the wreckage.

The discovery of a woman's body towards the stern of the ship brought the death toll to 12, as hopes dwindled of finding someone who may have miraculously survived in air pockets a week after the tragedy.

Still, officials said rescuers would continue throughout the night to scour previously inaccessible parts of the ship eight days after it hit rocks and keeled over on to its side off Italy's north-west coast.

Divers working for Italian prosecutors probing the role Captain Francesco Schettino played in the disaster retrieved a hard disk yesterday which may have video footage from security cameras on the ship's bridge, media reports said.

Schettino is being investigated for multiple man slaughter, abandoning ship and causing a shipwreck, after he steered the boat too close to the Tuscan island of Giglio. He is under house arrest.

The vessel's owner, Costa Crociere, has said the company was warned too late of the scale of the disaster, though Schettino has disputed their account. He fiercely denies abandoning ship, claiming he lost his footing and fell off as the vessel lurched onto its side.

The captain, who has been called Italy's “most hated man” by one Italian newspaper, also denies reports that he was on the bridge with Domnica Cemortan, a 25-year-old Moldovan ballerina.

Prosecutors hope the hard disk, a black box and a safe retrieved earlier may reveal who was with the captain when the accident happened and who was alerted.

As for the identity of the 12th body, a police official said the families of the 21 missing people would have to wait for “DNA tests now to identify the victim after a week in the water.”

The discovery came hours after Italy's civil protection agency took command at the site on the tiny Giglio Island, and promised to continue the search and rescue mission despite the risk of an oil spill.

The agency's head, Franco Gabrielli, said he had asked a technical committee for a fresh analysis of the “incredibly complex” situation at the doomed ship, holding 2,380 tonnes of fuel oil that could cause an environmental disaster.

 “We have put no time limit on the search. We hope to combine the rescue mission with the removal of the oil but will wait for the findings before taking a decision,” he said.

Source: Hindu Business Line