Concordia skipper claims ship was 30 seconds from avoiding disaster

Costa Concordia's captain Francesco Schettino arrives at his trial in a local theatre in Grosseto on Dec 2, 2014. The Italian ex-captain of the doomed Costa Concordia claimed at his manslaughter trial on Saturday that "with 30 more seconds" - an
Costa Concordia's captain Francesco Schettino arrives at his trial in a local theatre in Grosseto on Dec 2, 2014. The Italian ex-captain of the doomed Costa Concordia claimed at his manslaughter trial on Saturday that "with 30 more seconds" - and warning from his crew - the cruise ship's deadly crash could have been averted. -- PHOTO: AFP

ROME (AFP) - The Italian ex-captain of the doomed Costa Concordia claimed at his manslaughter trial on Saturday that "with 30 more seconds" - and warning from his crew - the cruise ship's deadly crash could have been averted.

"We almost managed to avoid the rock. Imagine what could have been done with only 30 more seconds, if I had been given all the data," he said, according to Italian daily Il Tirreno.

Thirty-two people lost their lives when the cruise ship sank off Italy's coast in January 2012, which subsequently resulted in charges of manslaughter, abandoning ship against Francesco Schettino.

If convicted, he faces up to 20 years behind bars.

During his questioning, the ex-captain pinned most of the blame for the disaster on his crew, who he claimed didn't provide him with the necessary information in time as the ship bore down on the island of Giglio.

"I am willing to take one part of the responsibility, but only one part," he said.

The Concordia, twice the size of the Titanic, was moving at a brisk 16 knots and had 4,229 people from 70 countries on board when it struck the rocks.

It hull pierced below the waterline on impact, the giant vessel slowly lumbered one way, then the other before finally sinking and settling, half-submerged on the sea-bed.