Cruise Captain Waited 73 Min. to Order Evacuation

Rescue operations suspended again
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2012 7:18 AM CST
Firefighters approach the Costa Concordia cruise ship, off the tiny Giglio island, Italy., Jan. 19, 2012.   (AP Photo/Vigili del Fuoco)
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(Newser) – Rescuers yet again suspended operations on the Costa Concordia wreck today, as scrutiny of Captain Francesco Schettino's final actions deepened. Investigators are trying to figure out why Schettino waited 73 minutes after hitting rocks to sound an evacuation alarm—and whether the abrupt turn he made doomed the ship. Ships like the Concordia are designed to survive hull breaches by flooding other hull compartments with water for balance, the Wall Street Journal explains. An abrupt turn could shift that water, causing the ship to roll.

In the 73 minutes before ordering the evacuation, Schettino put in several calls to cruise operator Costa Crociere, and prosecutors are trying to figure out what he said. Amateur video footage has shown a female crew member urging passengers to return to their cabins, telling them that "as soon as we have fixed the electrical problem that we are having, everything will be calm," the New York Times reports; transcripts show the ship was telling the Italian coast guard the same thing. (Read more Francesco Schettino stories.)

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