Concordia voice recorder analysis may take months

Mar 3, 2012, 1:49 PM

Associated Press

GROSSETO, Italy (AP) – The first evidence hearing into the Jan. 13 shipwreck of the luxury cruise liner Costa Concordia began Saturday, with so many people determined to attend the session that it was held in a local theater instead of the courthouse.

Prosecutor Francesco Verusio cautioned that it could be some time before the results of evidence analysis are known. He told state radio it could be “a month, two months, three months,” before findings, including of recorded conversations in the command room, are ready.

Lawyers for survivors, the dead and the missing, and some passengers themselves, crowded the closed-door hearing in the Tuscan city of Grosseto where the probe of the captain, several other ship officers and officials of the Costa Crociere SpA cruise company is being conducted.

Verusio said he expected the daylong hearing to be taken up by procedural battles, as the court formally assigns experts to analyze technical data from the ship’s recorder and other evidence, including crucial recordings of conversations in the ship’s command room.

Lawyers for the captain, Francesco Schettino _ who is accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship _ slipped into the theater through a backdoor. Schettino, who is under house arrest in his home near Naples, denies wrongdoing and was not in attendance.

Findings would be used to help a judge determine if a trial is warranted.

Thirty-two people either died or are missing and presumed dead after the Concordia rammed into a reef near the island of Giglio during dinner hour on the Mediterranean cruise. The ship _ with 4,200 passengers and crew aboard _ quickly took on water after a rocky reef gashed a hole in the side of its hull, then capsized near Giglio’s port.

Prosecutors say the captain steered the ship too close to the island to show off the vessel to islanders in a publicity stunt. Schettino has claimed that the reef, which appears on many tourist maps, wasn’t on his navigational charts.

Italian law allows injured parties to attach civil lawsuits to criminal cases, and they or their lawyers are permitted to attend hearings closed to the general public and media.

Among those entering the theater was survivor Sergio Ammarota, who said he was curious to see what would be learned when the so-called “black box” data recorder is opened and analyzed.

Ammarota said he wanted to know “exactly how it (the crash) happened and why the captain … could have carried out such a maneuver.”

Schettino is accused of abandoning ship while many passengers and crew were still aboard, and struggling to escape. Some of the passengers and crew jumped into the water and swam to shore after the Concordia’s tilt made it impossible to lower all the life boats.

The conversations among Schettino and his officers, and with Italian Coast Guard officials, are crucial in determining what happened, and why the captain initially told the Coast Guard that there was a blackout onboard and didn’t mention the collision.

Some conversations have already been made public, including one, played over and over again on Italian TV, in which a Coast Guard official based in Livorno, on the mainland, repeatedly orders a reluctant Schettino to get back on his ship and direct the evacuation and rescue efforts.

Among those present pressing lawsuits at the hearing Saturday was the Italian cruise company itself.

“We are an injured party, we lost a ship,” Marco De Luca, a lawyer for Costa Crociere said.

Participants acknowledged as they arrived that the search for truth and justice will be a long one.

“Today is just the beginning,” said Francesco Compagna, a lawyer for some passengers and an injured Russian crew member, Irina Nazarova.

“It is the first day. We don’t expect quick things but we think that the investigation must follow in all the directions.”

Compagna added that the legal team is “working hard to show that it was not the first time that the Costa boats used to go very close to the island.” He claimed to have documents to indicate the Concordia, on a previous voyage on the same route in August, was very close to the port.

Costa Crociere officials have acknowledged one previous close maneuver, but denied their ships regularly steered close to shore in publicity-drawing maneuvers.

One of the lawyers representing passengers _ Giuseppe Grammatico _ is also a survivor. Grammatico told reporters that some passengers, including himself, siezed the initiative to be evacuated because orders weren’t forthcoming from the ship’s officials.

“Just think, our lifeboat was lowered into the water because we insisted that it be done without an order from the captain,” Grammatico said.

Among those attending were relatives of some of the missing in the accident, including a French woman, Mylene Litzler.

Costa Crociere again came under the spotlight earlier in the week when a fire broke out in the generator room of the Costa Allegra, leaving the cruise ship without power and adrift in waters known to be prowled by pirates in the Indian Ocean. The ship arrived in the Seychelles after three days under tow. There were no injuries.

_____

Frances D’Emilio reported from Rome.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

World News

This illustration made available by Johns Hopkins APL and NASA depicts NASA's DART probe, upper rig...
Associated Press

NASA spacecraft smashes into asteroid for defense test

A NASA spacecraft rammed an asteroid at blistering speed Monday in an unprecedented dress rehearsal for the day a killer rock menaces Earth.
2 days ago
In this Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, photo taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Pres...
Associated Press

At least 9 killed as Iran protests over woman’s death spread

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Clashes between Iranian security forces and protesters angry over the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody have killed at least nine people since the violence erupted over the weekend, according to a tally Thursday by The Associated Press. The scope of Iran’s ongoing unrest, the worst in […]
6 days ago
Royal guards stand by the coffin of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, as members of the public pay thei...
Associated Press

Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral | Live updates

WINDSOR, England — Queen Elizabeth II has been interred together with her late husband, Prince Philip, at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, officials said. The royal family’s official website said the Dean of Windsor conducted a private burial ceremony late Monday at the King George VI Memorial Chapel, an annex inside St. George’s, a […]
9 days ago
Britain's King Charles III and Camilla, the Queen Consort leave after a Service of Prayer and Refle...
Associated Press

Live updates: Queen’s funeral police effort is biggest ever

LONDON — London police say Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral on Monday will be the largest single policing event the force has ever handled. Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy said Friday that the massive police operation surpasses even the 2012 Olympics, which were held in the British capital, and the celebrations earlier this year […]
12 days ago
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a medical worker takes a swab sample from a resident ...
Associated Press

WHO: COVID end ‘in sight,’ deaths at lowest since March 2020

GENEVA (AP) — The head of the World Health Organization said Wednesday that the number of coronavirus deaths worldwide last week was the lowest reported in the pandemic since March 2020, marking what could be a turning point in the years-long global outbreak. At a press briefing in Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said […]
14 days ago
Follow @KTAR923...
Sponsored Content by Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Concordia voice recorder analysis may take months