Coast Guard Ordered Captain to "Go on Board!"

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Capt. Francesco Schettino's leadership and sea faring skills were continually called into questioned Tuesday, as he appeared in court to face charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck, and abandoning his vessel.

The Italian judge overseeing the case ordered Schettino to be released from jail and put on house arrest.

For more than three hours, prosecutors interrogated the cruise ship captain who they say left the Costa Concordia cruise liner he was directing after it capsized off Italy's Tuscany coast, Jan. 13.

An audiotape played in court revealed an Italian coast guard officer yelled at Schettino, ordering him to return to the crippled ship and help passengers evacuate, but the captain remained hesitant.

"You go aboard. It is an order. Don't make any more excuses. You have declared 'abandon ship,'" coast guard Capt. Gregorio De Falco says on the recording.

Schettino appears to be afraid and losing control on the tapes.

"Commander please..." the captain says at one point.

"No, 'please.' You now get up and go on board," De Falco interrupts.

Search Efforts Continue 

Authorities say at least two dozen people are still missing from the Costa Concordia cruise liner that was carrying more than 4,200 people.

Divers recovered five more bodies Tuesday, bringing the death toll to 11. Earlier, the coast guard had raised the number of missing to 25 passengers and four crew members.

Italian officials gave the breakdown as 14 Germans, six Italians, four French, two Americans, one Hungarian, one Indian and one Peruvian. But there was still confusion over the numbers, with the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin listing 12 Germans as confirmed missing.

Tuesday morning, Italian naval divers used explosive charges to blast holes in the hull of the ship, trying to speed the search for survivors while the seas are calm. Officials say there's a glimmer of hope that more survivors could be found.

Meanwhile, Costa Cruises, the Carnaval company that owns the ship, is doing its best to disassociate itself from Schettino.

"The captain decided to change the route and he went into water he did not know in advance," Costa Cruises chairman and chief executive Pier Luigi Foschi said.

Stories of Survival

Investigators in scuba gear continue to comb the wrecked boat, trying to learn more about what happened.

Meanwhile, several of the surviving passengers are sharing their stories.

"It just felt like the Titanic all over again," Megan Mauri recalled. "It was a very scary experience, just seeing everybody panic the way they did."

"Everyone was just screaming and yelling and falling over. Just really, really sad," said Cindy Ananias, another survivor.

Coast guard video shows passengers forming a human chain to lower one another into life boats.

Ananias said one couple handed her mom their baby, believing the Ananias' were in a better position to survive the wreck.

"With the gravity, my mom couldn't hold the child or the child was going to fall," Ananias said. "There was no way she could still hold the baby. My mom gave it back and said, 'Be with your child.'"

The Ananias family still doesn't know what happened to the baby.

Also among the missing are American couple Jerry and Barbara Heil from Minnesota. The parents of four were celebrating their retirement with the trip of a lifetime.

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CBN News
Heather Sells

Heather Sells

CBN News Reporter

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