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Shipwreck Death Toll Rises, Captain Caught on Tape

One week following the Titanic-like cruise ship disaster in the Mediterranean, the death toll reports have risen to 11, with 21 people still unaccounted for. The search for the missing has been paused several times due to the dangers of the ship’s instability atop the rock where it sits half submerged. The magnitude of the resort tort lawsuits to follow is yet to be seen.

The Coast Guard transcript of the exchange between the Guard and the ship’s captain was released to the press and revealed a contradiction from the captain’s original public statement following the accident. The day of the incident, the captain stated that reports of him abandoning ship before the evacuation was complete were untrue. He stated that he and his officers were the last to leave the ship.

Translations of the transcript vary. Among the pieces published by The Washington Post:

(Captain) Schettino insisted he was on a rescue boat coordinating efforts.

“Captain,” the coast guard officer interrupted him. “This is an order. Now I am in command. You have declared the abandoning of a ship. I am in charge. There are already dead bodies.”

“How many?” Schettino asked.

“You’re the one who should be telling me that,” the officer said. “What do you want to do? Go home? It’s dark and you want to go home? Go back up and tell me what can be done: how many people there are and what they need.”

“Alright,” Schettino said. “I’m going.”

Among the pieces published by Reuters:

Captain to Coast Guard: “I am on a life boat of rescue, I am under here. I am not going anywhere. I am here.”

Coast Guard to Captain: “What are you doing captain?”

Captain to Coast Guard: “I am here to coordinate the rescue …” (Coast Guard interrupts him)

Coast Guard to captain: “What are you coordinating there! Go on board! Coordinate the rescue from on board! Are you refusing?”

Captain to Coast Guard: “No, I am not refusing.”

Coast Guard to captain: “Are you refusing to go on board, captain? Tell me the reason why you are not going back on board.”

Captain to Coast Guard: ” (inaudible)… there is a another life boat … ” (Coast Guard interrupts him again)

Coast Guard (screaming) to Captain: “You go back on board! That is an order! There is nothing else for you to consider. You have sounded the ‘abandon ship’. Now I am giving the orders. Go back on board. Is that clear? Don’t you hear me?”

Captain to Coast Guard: “I am going on board.”