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28 February 2024

Timeline of Italian cruise ship disaster


Italian luxury cruise ship Costa Concordia ran aground near a Tuscan island and keeled over on Friday, leaving at least 11 people dead and about two dozen still missing four days later.

Here is a timeline of the disaster, based on official statements and eyewitness accounts.

Friday, January 13

- 7:00 pm (1800 GMT): The ship sets sail from the port of Civitavecchia near Rome, with 4,229 people aboard including over 3,000 tourists and a crew of more than 1,000, hailing from 60 countries, most of them Italians, French, Germans and Spaniards. The first port-of-call on the seven-day cruise was to be Savona in northwest Italy, with stops including Marseille and Barcelona.

- 8:30 pm: Many passengers are having dinner or drinks in one of Costa Concordia's five restaurants and 13 bars, while others are in their cabins.

- 9:30 pm: The ship strikes a rocky outcrop just off the Tuscan island of Giglio.

- 9:35 pm: The electricity goes off. Many passengers begin to panic.

- 9:45 pm: A first alarm is sounded: two long whistles and one short, informing the crew of a problem.

- 9:50 pm: The ship begins to list. In the restaurants, dinnerware crashes off tables. Some passengers rush to their cabins for their life vests.

- 10:00 pm: Some passengers gather on the fourth deck where the lifeboats are located, as the captain tries to manoeuvre the vessel closer to shore.

- 10:10 pm: The "abandon ship" signal is given: seven short whistles and one long. Lifeboats begin their deployment.

- 10:20 pm: The coastguard launches rescue operations with the help of speedboats and helicopters. Giglio's 800-strong population turns out in force to help transfer passengers to shore.

Many passengers jump into the chilly waters instead of boarding lifeboats.

- 11:15 pm: The first lifeboat reaches Giglio.

- 11:40 pm: Media reports say Captain Francesco Schettino is found ashore, exhausted.

Saturday, January 14

- Three bodies are recovered, identified as two French tourists and a Peruvian crewman.

- Provincial capital Grosseto's fire chief Ennio Aquilino says his workers plucked around 100 people from the water and around 60 from the ship.

- Italian prosecutors detain the captain of the cruise ship Francesco Schettino and first officer Ciro Ambrosio over possible charges of manslaughter and abandoning ship before all passengers were rescued.

- Forty-one people remain unaccounted for, say officials.

Sunday, January 15

- South Korean honeymooners, both 29, are rescued from their cabin in "perfect condition."

- The ship's safety officer Marrico Giampietroni is evacuated with a broken leg. Rescuers spent hours trying to reach him after hearing his voice echoing in the ship.

- The prosecutor in charge of investigating the disaster says that Captain Schettino left the stricken vessel "well before" the last passengers were evacuated, in violation of international codes.

- The death toll from the disaster rises to five as two more bodies were found. One victim was identified as Spanish and another as Italian.

- The ship's owner Costa Crociere accuses Captain Schettino of having made "errors of judgement" and failing to follow emergency procedures.

Monday, January 16

- A sixth body is found in the wreckage of the ship.

- Italian Environment Minister Corrado Clini says he fears an environmental "disaster" around the shipwreck.

- Following conflicting information, the head of the Italian coastguards Marco Brusco confirms that 29 people -- four crew members and 25 passengers -- are still unaccounted for.

- Carnival Corp, the parent company of Costa Crociere, estimates the cost of the disaster at ê85-95 million. The news sent shares of the US-based group plunging almost 14 percent.

- Italy's biggest newspaper Corriere della Sera says Captain Schettino brought the ship close to Giglio island's rocky shores to please the head waiter who originates from the island.

- The boss of Costa Crociere, Pier Luigi Foschi, says the sinking of the cruiseliner was the result of an "inexplicable" error by the captain. He also pays tribute to members of the crew who helped rescue passengers, saying they "behaved like heros".

- Bad weather forces divers to temporarily halt the search for survivors in the wreckage, before resuming a few hours later.

- The UN's maritime agency says it may re-examine international safety regulations for large passenger ships in the wake of the disaster.

- A taped telephone conversation reveals that Captain Schettino did not respond to an order from a port official to return on board to oversee rescue operations.

Tuesday, January 17

- The Italian coastguards reveals the nationalities of the missing: 14 Germans, six Italians, four French, two Americans, a Hungarian, a Peruvian and an Indian.

- Pumping the fuel from the Costa Concordia will take at least three weeks, the head of the Dutch company in charge of the operation says.

- Over 70 passengers from the luxury liner join a class action against the owner, consumer rights association Codacons says.

- Five more bodies are found, bringing the confirmed death toll to 11.

- Italian prosecutors ask the judge to keep Captain Schettino in custody.

- Captain Schettino denies abandoning the ship.

- Judge Valeria Montesarchio rules that Schettino should be released from prison but put under house arrest while he awaits trial on accusations of manslaughter and abandoning ship while passengers were still on board.