Cruise Ship Captain Blamed for Tragic Crash

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Italian rescue crews have resumed their search for at least 29 passengers missing after a Costa Concordia cruise liner capsized off Italy's Tuscany coast, Friday night.

A retired couple from Minnesota is among those unaccounted for. Search efforts were halted earlier Monday because the ship wasn't stable.

Meanwhile, Italian authorities arrested Capt. Francesco Schettino Monday for suspected manslaughter after his ship ventured too close to shore, struck a rock, and capsized.

CBN News Producer Tyler James has undergone several emergency evacuation exercises during his years of experience working onboard cruise ships.

Click play for his comments on whether this emergency was handled properly.

Costa Cruises, the Carnival Corp. company operating the cruise liner, said the tragic crash was the result of an "unapproved, unauthorized maneuver" by Schettino.

"We can't deny that there was a human error," chairman Pier Luigi Foschi said.

At least six people are confirmed dead. Carnival estimates the disaster could cost the company as much as $95 million.

One prosecutor said they're also investigating whether Schettino abandoned his sinking ship before all the passengers had escaped.

Italian coast guard officials and passengers say they spotted Schettino fleeing the scene as the evacuation was underway.

But the captain told one reporter "we were the last ones to leave the ship."

The cruise liner was close to the shore when it hit a rock, tearing a huge gash in its hull. Passengers say what followed was a chaotic and poorly handled evacuation.

One home video released to the media documented the fear experienced by passengers as they swarmed a non-working lifeboat.

"People started loading into the lifeboats and there was just panic. People were pushing. It was just chaotic," Mark Plath, an American who was on board the boat, said.

"They had to use hammers to cut the ropes. And all of a sudden, after five minutes, the lifeboat travelled from the fourth floor to the water -- all the way to the water," said Divya Sharma, another American who was on the cruise ship.

Meanwhile, some dramatic rescues are offering glimmers of hope that missing passengers will be found alive. On Sunday a helicopter hoisted a surviving crew member to safety.

Rescuers also rescued a Korean honeymoon couple, trapped inside the capsized ship as they called for help.

Investigators want to know why the captain allowed the ship to sail so close to the well-known rocky coast.

"We can't deny that there was a human error," he said. "The route had been properly programmed in Civitavecchia. The fact that the ship strayed from that course can only be due to a maneuver that was not approved, not authorized nor communicated to Costa Crociere by the captain of the ship."

The coast guard said divers have recovered the infamous black box, which could shed more light on just what happened. But it will likely be months before significant new information is revealed, according to authorities.

Coincidentally, this year marks the 100-year anniversary of one of the worst sea disasters ever -- the sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912.

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Heather Sells

Heather Sells

CBN News Reporter

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