Pier Luigi Foschi, chairman and chief executive of Costa Cruises, the Italian company that operates the Costa Concordia, said in a news conference in Genoa on Jan. 16 that the fault of the tragedy lies with the captain, Francesco Schettino, who went far off the ship's course. The BBC
described Foschi as fighting back tears as he spoke.
"This route was put in correctly. The fact that it left from this course is due solely to a maneuver by the commander that was unapproved, unauthorized and unknown to Costa," Foschi said. "He wanted to show the ship, to (go) nearby this island of Giglio, so he decided to change the course of the ship to go closer to the island."
Search for missing passengers suspended
According to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica
, the reason the captain decided to cruise by the island, a considerable deviation from the regular route, was to allow his chief steward, who is from Giglio, to see the island in a different view, from the ship.
The La Repubblica also reported that Antonello Tievolli, the sister of the chief steward, wrote on her Facebook page shortly before the ship hit rocks that: "In a short period of time the Concordia ship will pass very close. A big greeting to my brother who will finally get to have a holiday on landing in Savona."
The 114,500-tonne liner had 4,200 passengers and crew when she ran aground and there are conflicting accounts of the death toll and how many remain missing. The Guardian
in the U.K. reported that 6 were known to have died with another 25 passengers and 4 crew members still missing. They stressed that the numbers have been fluctuating. The search for survivors was halted as the ship shifted during the day.
The ship was carrying 2,300 tons of fuel and there is concern leaks have begun. The Italian Environment Minister, Corrado Clini, said the government would declare a state of emergency to access more funds in order to do everything possible to prevent a major fuel spill.
Cruise liner captain arrested
The captain has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter amidst further reports from multiple sources that say there is suspicion he left the ship before the evacuation was complete. Captain Schettino has strongly denied that accusation and the 52-year-old said he and his crew remained onboard until all evacuation procedures were completed. Despite the evidence against him, Costa Cruises say they will stand by their captain.
"The company will be close to the captain and will provide him with all the necessary assistance, but we need to acknowledge the facts and we cannot deny human error," Foschi said.