An Italian coast guard official vehementlydemanded that the captain go back to his crippledcruise ship to oversee its evacuation, but thecaptain repeatedly resisted, according to ashocking audiotape made public Tuesday.
Prosecutors have accused Capt. Francesco Schettinoof manslaughter, causing a shipwreck andabandoning his vessel before all passengers wereevacuated during the grounding of the CostaConcordia cruise ship off the Tuscan coast onFriday night.
After Schettino was interrogated by prosecutorsfor three hours Tuesday, a judge in Grosseto,Tuscany, ruled that the captain, who had beendetained a few hours after he allegedly abandonedthe Concordia, should be released from jail andconfined to his home near Naples under housearrest, his lawyer, Bruno Leporatti, toldreporters outside the courthouse.
Prosecutors wanted him kept in Grosseto's prison,and Leporatti had asked that he be freed.
The death toll from the tragedy nearly doubled to11 on Tuesday when divers extracted the bodies offour men and one woman from the ship's wreckage.The victims were in their 50s or 60s and each worethe orange vest that passengers use, indicatingthey were apparently passengers and not crewmembers, said a Coast Guard spokesman, Cmdr.Filippo Marini. Their nationalities were notimmediately determined.
Prior to that grim finding, the coast guard hadraised the number of missing to 25 passengers andfour crew members. Italian officials gave thebreakdown as 14 Germans, six Italians, fourFrench, two Americans, one Hungarian, one Indianand one Peruvian. But there was still confusionover the numbers, with the German Foreign Ministryin Berlin listing 12 Germans as confirmed missing.
The Costa Concordia was carrying more than 4,200people when it hit a reef off the Tuscan island ofGiglio after Schettino made an unauthorizeddeviation from the cruise ship's programmedcourse, apparently as a favor to his chief waiter,who hailed from the island.
Schettino has insisted that he stayed aboard untilthe ship was evacuated. However, a recording ofhis conversation with Italian Coast Guard Capt.Gregorio De Falco indicates he fled before allpassengers were off -- and then resisted De Falco'srepeated orders to return.
"You go on board and then you will tell me howmany people there are. Is that clear?" De Falcoshouted in the audio tape.
Schettino resisted, saying the ship was tippingand it was dark. At the time, he and his second-in-command were in a lifeboat and the captain saidhe was coordinating the rescue from there. He alsosaid he was not going back aboard the ship"because the other lifeboat is stopped."
Passengers have said many lifeboats on the exposedport side of the ship didn't winch down after theship had capsized.
De Falco shouted back: "And so what? You want togo home, Schettino? It is dark and you want to gohome? Get on that prow of the boat using the pilotladder and tell me what can be done, how manypeople there are and what their needs are. Now!"
"You go aboard. It is an order. Don't make anymore excuses. You have declared 'Abandon ship,'now I am in charge," De Falco shouted.
At one point, De Falco vowed: "I'm going to makesure you get in trouble. ... I am going to makeyou pay for this. Go on board, (expletive)!"
Schettino was finally heard on the tape agreeingto reboard. But the coast guard has said he neverwent back, and had police arrest him on land.
The 52-year-old Schettino, described by theItalian media as a genial, tanned ship's officer,has worked for 11 years for the ship's owner andwas made captain in 2006. He hails from Meta diSorrento, in the Naples area, which produces manyof Italy's ferry and cruise boat captains. Heattended the Nino Bixio merchant marine schoolnear Sorrento.
Schettino recounted his version of events beforeprosecutors and the judge at Tuesday's hearing inGrosseto to decide whether he should remainjailed.
The captain could face up to 12 years in prison onthe abandoning ship charge alone.
Leporatti told the hearing the captain hadinsisted that after the initial crash into thereefs he had maneuvered the ship close to shore ina way that "saved hundreds, if not thousands, oflives."
Passengers, however, described the evacuation aschaotic.
Steve and Kathy Ledtke, who live in Fort Gratiot,Michigan, said they were sitting down to a latedinner Friday when they realized something hadgone wrong. Kathy Ledtke told WDIV-TV that itseemed no one was in charge.
"It was complete chaos and it was every man forhimself," Kathy Ledtke said. "Nobody knew where togo."
Earlier Tuesday, Italian naval divers explodedholes in the hull of the grounded cruise ship,trying to speed up the search for the missingwhile seas were still calm. Navy spokesmanAlessandro Busonero told Sky TV 24 the holes wouldhelp divers enter the wreck more easily.
"We are rushing against time," he said.
The divers set four microcharges above and belowthe surface of the water, Busonero said. Videoshowed one hole above the waterline less than twometers (6 feet) in diameter.
Mediterranean waters in the area were relativelycalm Tuesday with waves of just 12 inches (30centimeters) but they were expected to reachnearly 6 feet (1.8 meters) Wednesday, according tometeorological forecasts.
A Dutch shipwreck salvage firm, meanwhile, said itwould take its engineers and divers two to fourweeks to extract the 500,000 gallons of fuelaboard the ship. The safe removal of the fuel hasbecome a priority second only to finding themissing, as the wreckage site lies in a maritimesanctuary for dolphins, porpoises and whales.
Preliminary phases of the fuel extraction couldbegin as early as Wednesday if approved by Italianofficials, the company said.
Smit, a Rotterdam, Netherlands-based salvagecompany, said no fuel had leaked from any of theship's tanks and that thetanks appeared intact.While there is a risk the ship could shift inlarger waves, to date it has been relativelystable perched on top of rocks near Giglio's port.
Smit's operations manager, Kees van Essen, saidthe company was confident the fuel could safely beextracted using pumps and valves to vacuum the oilout to waiting tanks.
"But there are always environmental risks in thesetypes of operations," he told reporters.
The company said any discussion about the fate ofthe ship -- whether it is removed in one piece orbroken up -- would be decided by Italian shipoperator Costa Crociere and its insurancecompanies.
The Miami-based Carnival Corp., which owns theItalian operator, estimated that preliminarylosses from having the Concordia out of operationat least through 2012 would be between $85 millionand $95 million, along with other costs. Thecompany's share price slumped more than 16 percentMonday.
It was not yet clear if the ship -- which wascompleted in 2006 -- would ever be able to returnto service.
Carnival said its deductible on damage to the shipwas approximately $30 million. In addition, thecompany faces a deductible of $10 million forthird-party personal injury liability claims.
Carnival said other costs related to the groundingcan't yet be determined.