01/24/2012 08:17 am ET

Costa Concordia Disaster: Rich Russians Allegedly Bought Lifeboat Seats

It's women and children first...unless you can afford otherwise. Prosecutors are probing claims that rich Russian passengers bought seats on Costa Concordia lifeboats, reports The Sun.

According to reports from other cruise passengers, wealthy Russians were "stuffing wads of cash" into the hands of crew in order to get prime lifeboat real estate.

"I went to the boats as I saw them coming in expecting to see women, children and the injured but all I saw were healthy men and elegant women in evening gowns who were speaking Russian," Franca Anichini, a resident of Giglio, told the German media.

A U.S. spokesman for Costa Concordia declined to comment to the Wall Street Journal.

Another unconventional way of securing a lifeboat seat would be to trip and fall in. Such was the claim of Concordia Captain Francesco Schettino when confronted about abandoning his ship.

Meanwhile, salvage crews are preparing to pump the fuel from the ship, while two more bodies were found yesterday.

Passengers booked on any Costa vessel have been offered penalty-free cancellations. Wonder if that includes lifeboat fees?