Costa Concordia captain apologizes

July 11, 2012 at 8:42 AM

ROME, July 11 (UPI) -- The captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship apologized for being "distracted" when the ship capsized off the Italian coast in January, killing 32 people.

Francesco Schettino, released from house arrest in Italy last week, said he was not at the helm when the vessel hit rocks near the island of Giglio but shared in the blame for the disaster, ANSA reported Wednesday.

"I have to apologize to everyone because at that time, during the approach to Giglio, one of my officers was at the command and I was distracted, so I have those 32 deaths on my conscience," he told Mediaset television.

Schettino also said he would like to meet with the victims' families, ANSA said. The ship had 4,200 passengers and crew on board when it struck a rock formation off Italy's Tuscan coast Jan. 13.

Schettino faces possible charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck, abandoning ship, failing to report an accident to the coast guard and destroying a natural habitat.

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