Francesco Shetino, captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship that capsized on Friday, killing at least 11 people, admitted he made a navigation mistake, Italian media reported.
Francesco Shetino, 52, told investigators he “ordered the turn too late” while the luxury ship was sailing near an island, according to a leaked transcript of an interrogation.
The Costa Concordia flooded with about 4,200 people on board.
More than 20 people are still missing, but the search for survivors has stopped.
According to a leaked transcript quoted by Italian media, Captain Francesco Shetino said the Costa Concordia route on the first day of the Mediterranean cruise was decided when he left the port of Civitavecchia, near Rome, on Friday.
Francesco Shetino reportedly told the investigating judge in the town of Grosseto that he had decided to sail near Giglio to greet a former captain who had a home on the Tuscan island.
“I navigated with my eyes because I knew the depths well and I had done this maneuver three or four times,” Francesco Shetino reportedly said.
“But this time I ordered the turn too late and found myself in water that was too shallow. I don’t know why it happened. “
The owners of the Costa Crociere said earlier this week that a change of route was not allowed.
On Tuesday, Captain Francesco Sketino’s lawyer said his client had told the judge that his life had been saved thanks to a maneuver he made after the ship hit rocks.
Francesco Shetino is under house arrest on suspicion of repeated manslaughter. Prosecutors also accuse him of fleeing the ship before the evacuation was completed.
A recording of a conversation between him and a port official after the crash seems to support this, although Captain Francesco Sketino denies the allegations.
In the recording, published by the Corriere della Sera newspaper, the head of the Livorno port administration, Gregorio De Falco, could be heard repeatedly telling the captain to return on board to help the passengers.
“Sethino, you may have escaped the sea, but I will certainly cause you trouble.” Get on board says Gregorio De Falco.
Francesco Shetino seems to refuse, answering first that there are already lifeguards on board, and then it is dark and difficult to see.
The Coast Guard believes he never returned to the ship. Shortly afterwards, he was arrested on the island.
During the hearing, Francesco Sketino announced that he could not board the ship because it was lying on its side.
Italian media also quoted Francesco Shetino as telling the judge that he left the ship by accident after tripping over a lifeboat.
If the reports of Francesco Shetino’s interrogations are correct, it means acknowledging the most reckless incompetence.
Meanwhile, the first dead victim identified was 38-year-old Hungarian violinist Sándor Feher.
His body was found in the wreckage and was identified by his mother, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
The search for survivors has been halted, with officials claiming that Costa Concordia is at risk of sinking completely into the rough sea.
Officials hope to begin repair work soon, including pumping oil from the wreckage. There are fears that the ship could sink into deeper water off the Tuscan coast.
A specialized team from a Dutch rescue company is preparing to pump more than 2,300 tons of fuel from the ship’s 17 tanks.
Italian Environment Minister Corrado Clini said it would take about 10 days to pump all the fuel from the ship. He said that if the fuel could not be retained, the local environment was at risk.
“If we take into account 2400 tons of fuel, the damage can be terrible,” Said Corrado Wedges.
Corrado Klini said the government would declare a state of emergency later this week to release state funds to deal with environmental issues.
Meanwhile, satellite tracking information published by Lloyd’s List Intelligence shows that the Costa Concordia sailed even closer to the island on a cruise last August.
Lloyd’s List said the ship crossed 230 meters from the island on August 14, 2011 to mark La Notte di San Lorenzo, the night of the island’s shooting star festival.
The deviation of the route on this occasion was apparently allowed by Costa Crociere.
Lloyd’s List described the occasion as an “almost leak” and said the ship’s route would be less than 200 meters from the point of collision on Friday’s trip.
But Richard Mead, editor of Lloyd’s List, said: “The company’s story about what happened, about the fraudster [Capt Francesco Schettino] making a bad decision is not as black and white as they originally presented.
“This ship had taken a very similar route only a few months before, and the captain would have known that.”