Costa Concordia Sinking: Captain Claims He 'Tripped' And Fell Into Lifeboat
Francesco Schettino, in a move that has sparked outrage from survivors and fellow mariners, told Italian investigators that he "tripped" into one of the lifeboats while aiding in the Concordia's evacuation, insisting he left the sinking cruise ship purely by accident. Schettino did admit full responsibility for causing the crash, but for families of the dead, his excuses are far from enough. Reuters

Costa Concordia managers told Captain Francesco Schettino to sail close to the Giglio Island's shore on the night the ship crashed to a rock and capsized, according to a conversation leaked in Italian newspapers.

Transcripts of the conversation were published by daily La Repubblica. "Fabri ... anyone else in my place wouldn't have been so nice as to go there because they were breaking my balls, saying go there, go there," Schettino says in the conversation, "...the rock was there but it didn't show up in the instruments I had and I went there ... to satisfy the manager, pass by there, pass by there, and now I'm paying for it" he says.

Costa Crociera, which owns Costa Concordia stricken liner, insists that it never authorised Schettino to take his ship close to the shore.

The captain's conversation was secretly taped when he was held in a police station in Orbetello, in Tuscany, after being arrested.

He told his friend that once a huge tear was opened into the cruise ship and water began flooding, he did all he could to save lives.

"The hole was immense," he said. "There was a spike of rock. But everything that happened from that moment on, I performed to the utmost extent of my professionalism. I'm proud that we saved so many people, including some who would not have managed."

From the transcripts, it emerges that Schettino abandoned the ship after realising that the vessel was skewing on one side. The captain told prosecutors he tripped into a lifeboat while investigating the state of the ship. "When I understood that the ship was listing I got on with it and got off," he is quoted as saying in the leaked conversations.

Schettino is under house arrest, facing accusations of manslaughter and abandoning the ship before the evacuation of all passengers. The death toll rose to 16 people on Tuesday, with another 16 still missing. Six bodies are still unidentified.