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New Facts Emerging About Italian Cruise Ship Disaster

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Collision of Costa Concordia
The Costa Concordia floats in the Tyrrhenian Sea next to Isola del Giglio, near the western coast of Italy. Image: Rvongher

Since the Italian cruise ship sank off the coast of Tuscany on Jan. 13, many new facts have come out.

As you may recall from TKN’s article about the disaster, the captain of the 13-deck Costa Concordia cruise ship steered the boat too close to an island. Rocks tore a hole in the hull and the ship sank.

There were more than 4,200 people on board; some said that while they were scrambling to leave the ship, they saw the captain already in a lifeboat.

Since TKN reported on the story on Jan. 15 there have been many accusations against the captain, Francesco Schettino, who is currently under house arrest.*

He is accused of manslaughter (unintentional murder), causing a shipwreck and leaving the ship when there are passengers and crew still on board.

Audio of a conversation between Schettino and the Italian Coast Guard has shocked people; the Coast Guard orders Schettino to get back on the boat and make sure everyone gets off. Schettino says he is already in a lifeboat. The Coast Guard yells at Schettino, telling him to climb the rope ladder and get back on board. Schettino stalls, saying that it is dark and that there are others on board helping with the rescue.

Detail of Costa Concordia's Hull
A 160 ft. long hole in the hull of the Costa Concordia. Image: Rvongher

Recently, another audio recording was released by the Italian media in which Schettino appears to be saying that he will stay on the ship until everyone else is off.

Other accusations have come out against the captain. It appears that Schettino was steering the enormous ship close to the island in order to “salute” someone on the island. There are reports that he has done it before.

The captain has complained that the rocks he hit were not on his maps. However, the reef is indicated “on maritime and even tourist maps,” according to the Globe and Mail newspaper.

There is also a report that a woman was on the bridge at the time of the accident. One passenger said he saw the captain and the woman dining on prawn cocktail, shrimp pasta and red wine before the crash.

The woman told a reporter she was there to translate instructions because she speaks several languages. The woman says the captain is “a hero,” saying he saved thousands of lives.

Fifteen people died in the wreck; as of Jan. 23 at least 17 people were still missing.

However, there may have been stowaways on board the ship, whose names are not on the official list of passengers. That may mean that the number of people who have died or are missing is higher than previously believed.

Collision of Costa Concordia, rock impact
Detail of rock impact. Image: Rvongher

The ship is in a special area of the Tyrrhenian Sea which contains protected marine animals including the endangered Mediterranean monk seal. An oil spill would be an environmental disaster.

The ship contains 2,400 tonnes of oil and 200 tonnes of diesel fuel. Workers are trying to get the oil off the ship to prevent a spill.

*When a person is “under house arrest” it means that rather than being in jail, they have to stay in their house. Often the police use a special electronic ankle bracelet on the person which they can’t remove; that lets police know if the person leaves their house.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
TKN reported that one woman is calling the captain a hero. And yet, so many others are saying his behaviour was disgraceful. How can there be such different opinions? How should a journalist deal with conflicting information?

Reading Prompt: Text Features
Three images are included in today’s article. How do the photographs add to your understanding of the article and the collision of the Costa Concordia? If only one image were included, which one would you pick? Why?

Primary & Junior
Identify a variety of text features and explain how they help readers understand texts (OME, Reading: 2.3).

Intermediate
Identify a variety of text features and explain how they help communicate meaning (OME, Reading: 2.3).

Grammar Feature: 1 to one
When writers include numbers in their writing, it’s not always clear whether to write the digit (1, 2, 3, etc.) or the word (one, two, three). Here is a rule that helps: For numbers greater than nine, use digits. Spell out numbers nine or smaller.

Underline all of the numbers you can find in today’s article and images. Then, add them all up and write the sum in words.