Cruise ship captain under house arrest

Tuesday 17 January 2012 21.51
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Divers used controlled explosions to get into the ship
Divers used controlled explosions to get into the ship
Costa Concordia capsized on Friday night
Costa Concordia capsized on Friday night

An Italian judge has placed the captain of the stricken cruise liner which capsized off Italy's west coast under house arrest, allowing him to leave jail.

Captain Francesco Schettino was arrested a day after the disaster accused of manslaughter and abandoning the ship before all of the people were evacuated.

Prosecutors say he also refused to go back on board when requested by the coastguard.

Divers searching for survivors inside the Costa Concordia cruise ship off the Italian coast have found five more bodies.

"Coastguard scuba divers have just found five bodies in the wreck of the Concordia. The bodies were found in the stern," ANSA news agency reported.

Officials say that 11 people have been confirmed dead and 24 are missing after the vessel struck rocks on Friday night.

Rescue squads used controlled explosions to enter the stricken vessel this morning to search for survivors.

The Costa Concordia's owners have accused the captain of causing the disaster by veering the ship too close to shore in a "salute" to residents of a Tuscan island off Italy's Mediterranean coast..

A black box transcript showed Mr Schettino ignored a port official's order to return on deck after abandoning the stricken ship.

"It was bravado, Schettino was showing off, clowning around, it was incredibly stupid. I would sentence him not once but ten times," said a former captain who worked with the ship's owner, Costa Crociere.

The two explosions were carried out early this morning to allow firefighters and scuba divers to enter parts of the ship that they had not yet been able to search.

The weather has improved slightly from yesterday, but seas are still choppy.

The giant cruise liner slid a little yesterday, threatening to plunge 2,300 tonnes of fuel below the Mediterranean waters of the surrounding nature reserve.

The slippage forced rescuers to suspend efforts to find anyone still alive three days after the disaster.

The 114,500-tonne ship, one of the biggest passenger vessels ever to be wrecked, foundered after striking a rock just as dinner was being served on Friday night.

It quickly rolled on its side, revealing a long gouge below the waterline.

Environment Minister Corrado Clini said he would declare a state of emergency because of the risk that the ship's fuel would leak into the pristine Tuscan Archipelago National Park.