Florida Couple on Sinking Ship

MIAMI (AP) _ A Florida couple says they tried to board several crowded lifeboats before finding one that would let them off a cruise ship that capsized off the Italian coast.

Karen Camacho and Luis Manny Hernandez were celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary aboard the Costa Concordia when it ran aground late Friday.

The Miami-Dade County couple tells The Miami Herald (http://bit.ly/zrFKmS ) they were having dinner when they heard a crash and the ship tilted to one side.

The chief executive of the Italian owner of the Costa Concordia that capsized off Tuscany says the captain made an unauthorized, unapproved deviation from the ship’s programmed course.

Chairman and CEO Pier Luigi Foschi said Monday that the company stood by the captain, Francesco Schettino, and would provide him with legal assistance. But he told reporters that the company, which is owned by the world’s largest cruiseline, Carnival Corp., disassociated itself from his behavior.

He says Costa ships have their routes programmed, and alarms go off when they deviate. He said: “This route was put in correctly. The fact that it left from this course is due solely to a maneuver by the commander that was unapproved,
unauthorized and unknown to Costa.”

He blames “human error” on the part of the captain for the grounding off Tuscany and said at Monday’s press conference, that the liner had passed all safety and technical tests in its 2011 evaluation. He says the company’s main concern was the safety and well-being of the passengers and crew, as well as to ensure fuel doesn’t leak out from the upended hull into the pristine waters off the island of Giglio.

The Costa Concordia ran into a reef Friday night and capsized into the port area of Giglio, sparking a frantic evacuation of 4,200 passengers and crew.

Coast Guard officials have expressed concern that the ship might slip off the rocks where it is currently perched.