The captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship appeared in an Italian court on Monday at the start of a key hearing at which he is expected to be put on trial for abandoning the ship and causing the deaths of 32 people.
Capt. Francesco Schettino was in charge of the 1,000-foot-long luxury cruise ship when it slammed into rocks off the Mediterranean island of Giglio on the night of Jan. 13. A chaotic, panic-stricken evacuation ensued in the darkness in which more than 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew had to scramble for safety, most taking to lifeboats but some leaping into the icy cold water.
“I remember people fleeing in terror and panic,” said Luciano Castro, a public relations executive who was on holiday on the ship. “Then the long wait without any information, the extreme difficulty of getting off the boat and the feeling that we had been abandoned. We only escaped by chance, or perhaps by a miracle. Others were not so lucky.”