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January 16th, 2012

6 Dead, Captain Under Scrutiny After Cruise Ship Crash Off Italian Coast

The captain of a cruise liner that ran aground  and capsized off the Tuscan coast Friday, leaving 6 dead, is being held by authorities for suspected manslaughter. A search of the ship was continuing Monday in rough seas for 16 people still unaccounted for.

A prosecutor confirmed they also were investigating allegations that the captain abandoned ship before all passengers had escaped, which carries a penalty of up to 12 years in prison according to Italian navigation code. Coast Guard officials said they saw the captain fleeing the scene as the evacuation was under way.

On Sunday, the ship’s Italian owner issued a statement saying there appeared to be “significant human error” on the part of Captain Francesco Schettino that “resulted in these grave consequences.”

Schettino said he did not leave the liner early and said he did all he could to save lives.

The luxury liner struck rocks or a reef off the tiny island of Giglio, prompting questions about why the ship had navigated so close to the dangerous eastern coast of the island. Coast Guard divers had recovered the “black box” that holds a recording of the navigational details, but no details had yet been released.

The maritime lawyers at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers represent cruise vessel crewmembers and passengers who have been injured in accidents on a cruise ship.

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