Costa Concordia
Passengers on board Costa Concordia expected to receive compensation payout of €11,000 (Reuters) Reuters

The wife of Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino has defended her husband from allegations that he abandoned the ship before everyone was saved.

In an interview with the Italian weekly magazine Oggi, Fabiola Russo said that the nickname "Captain Coward" was unfair to Schettino, who had tried to save hundreds of lives.

"Those at sea navigate, while those on land judge," she said. "We know very well what pain is. Our faith is one of the things we have in common."

Passengers on the stricken liner that crashed off the Tuscan island of Giglio are in line to receive a compensation payout of €11,000 (£9,000), the Italian Association of Tour Operators said.

The decision was reached during a meeting between Costa Crociera, which operated the Costa Concordia on behalf of the cruise giant Carnival Corp, and consumer associations.

Costa Crociera said it would reimburse passengers for the full cost of the cruise, along with their travel expenses and any medical costs incurred as a result of the ship having capsized.

The compensation will be paid to each passenger. Separate agreements will be reached with those passengers who were injured and with the families of those who died.

Schettino is under house arrest and faces possible charges of manslaughter, shipwreck and abandoning ship.

A class-action lawsuit against Costa Crociera and Carnival is expected to be launched in the US.