On Jan. 13, 2012, the Costa Concordia luxury cruise ship ran aground and capsized off the Italian coast, resulting in the tragic deaths of 32 people. With only a few days left to its one-year anniversary, the question remains: who was to blame for the tragedy?
The captain of the ship, Francesco Schettino, stands accused of manslaughter after prosecutors found that the ship was cruising too close to the island in a 'ship salute' publicity stunt before ramming into the reef. The Associated Press reports that Schettino was also accused of a series of security blunders, delays and safety breaches, for instance, talking on the phone, being distracted, and abandoning ship while many passengers and crew were fighting for their lives aboard.
"His role emerged straight away. It was obvious that he was the person responsible: we could have tried him there and then," Francesco Verusio, the magistrate who led the investigation, said according to the Guardian. "It was apparent immediately that he had been on the bridge: he was steering the Concordia, a ship of more than 300 metres and with more than 4,000 people on board, as if it were a canoe," Verusio added.
But while Schettino has been singled out as the main culprit, new evidence suggests the British and American directors of the ship's parent company, Carnival, may share the blame, the Week reports.
According to the Week, lawyers representing families of the victims claimed that:
Carnival's directors "not only tolerated, but promoted and publicised" the risky ship salutes of Giglio and other tourist sites as a convenient, effective marketing tool."
On Sunday, hundreds plan to gather on the Giglio island, where the rusting liner remains kneeled, to pay their respects to the victims and their families, Italy's Gazzetta Del Sud reported. "The ceremony will kick off at 9:45 pm with a minute's silence followed by the sounding of sirens of ships in the harbor to mark the exact time the liner collided with the rocks", the Guardian added.