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Locals blame captain for cruise disaster

When the Costa Concordia was christened in 2006, the champagne bottle didn’t break against the side of the ship. That is supposedly an omen of bad luck. Investigators say it was more likely a bad captain who made “significant errors” that led to the Carnival-owned vessel’s grounding and deaths of at least five people.

Two women from the Seattle area were rescued from the ship. Karen Kois described a scraping noise. Her friend Lynn Kaelin, of Puyallup, says the crew was unprepared to handle the disaster and evacuation. She says the situation was chaos, passengers were given no directions, and the captain was of no help.

“He was at dinner eating dinner with them when someone whispered in his ear and he literally got up and ran and he got off the ship and got to land before any of us,” Kaelin says.

Concordia

The Costa Concordia leans on its side after running aground the tiny Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy. AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia

Based on official statements and eyewitness accounts, here’s a timeline of the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster.

Friday, January 13

7:00 pm: The ship sets sail from a port of near Rome, with 4,229 people aboard including a crew of more than 1,000.

8:30 pm: Most passengers are having dinner or drinks in one of the ship’s five restaurants or 13 bars, while others are in their cabins.

8:35 pm: The mammoth cruise liner nears the Tuscan island of Giglio.

9:30 pm: The ship strikes an outcropping of land about 1,000 feet from Giglio Island.

9:35 pm: The electricity goes off.

9:45 pm: A first alarm is sounded: two long whistles and one short, informing the crew of a problem.

9:50 pm: The ship begins to list. In the restaurants, dinnerware falls off the tables. Some passengers rush to their cabins for their life vests.

10:00 pm: Some passengers begin gathering on the fourth deck where the lifeboats are located.

10:10 pm: The “abandon ship” signal is given.

10:20 pm: The Coast Guard launches rescue operations with the help of speedboats and helicopters. Many passengers jump into the chilly waters instead of boarding lifeboats. Around 40 are injured, two seriously.

11:15 pm: The first lifeboat reaches Giglio. In all, some 4,000 of the ship’s 4,229 make it to safety aboard lifeboats.

11:40 pm: Captain Francesco Schettino is found ashore, exhausted.

Saturday, January 14

1:30 am: Three bodies are recovered, identified later as two French tourists and a Peruvian crewman.

2:30 am: 300 people remain aboard awaiting evacuation.

6:00 am: The last survivor is rescued from aboard the ship, with a broken leg.

Sunday, January 15

12:15 am: Rescuers locate two more people aboard the ship.

12:58 am: The two 29-year-old South Korean honeymooners, are rescued.

7:00 am: A voice is heard coming from the third deck.

12:00 noon: A port authority spokesman says a helicopter has evacuated the ship’s safety officer, Marrico Giampietroni, with a broken leg.

1:15 pm: 17 people — 11 passengers and six crew — remain missing.

Late Sunday, divers searching the partially submerged Costa Concordia found the bodies of two elderly men still in their life jackets, bringing the confirmed death toll to five. At least 15 people were still missing, including two Americans.

A maritime expert says the disaster raises questions about the captain’s behavior, the crew’s preparedness and the evacuation.

“Are we going to learn from this event and make changes? Certainly,” Chris McKesson, a professor at the School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering at the University of New Orleans, told CNN. “But this ship had 4,200 people on board, which is the equivalent of 20 Boeing 737s. If this were an aviation disaster, the fact that there were only five fatalities would be remarkable.”

AP contributed to this report

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