Listen to the audio of the rescue efforts of the Costa Concordia below.
The captain of the Costa Concordia was ordered by the Italian coast guard to return to his sinking ship, according to transcripts of radio calls and telephone conversations published Tuesday.
Captain Francesco Schettino told the coast guard the evacuation was nearly finished when it had barely started, according to the transcripts. He also claimed he was on the ship despite having escaped over rocks near where the liner had crashed and caught a taxi to take him away from the scene, according to two Italian newspapers.
Italian newspapers also point to a Facebook posting that went up before the crash, implying the captain would bringing the ship close to shore as a favor for a friend.
The Costa Concordia ran aground after it hit a rock off the coast of Giglio on Jan. 13. Of the 4,211 passengers on board, at least six people are now believed dead, and 29 more remain missing.
On Monday, the chief executive of Costa Cruises placed the blame almost exclusively on the captain, who is believed to have taken the boat off course.
Read the transcripts between Schettino and the coast guard below:
At 9:49 p.m., Schettino was radioed by the harbormaster’s office in Livorno, regional headquarters of the coast guard.
“Everything OK?” the harbormaster’s office asked.
“Affirmative,” was the reply. Just a “small technical failure.”
Five minutes later, the coast guard radioed again, requesting the ship’s position, and again asking whether it was in trouble.
“We’ve only got a technical problem and we’re not able to “give the position, was the reply. “But as soon as it's resolved, we’ll communicate [it] to you.”
This was the last radio call. All follow-up radio calls to the damaged ship went unanswered.
But at 12:32 a.m., after the evacuation had been underway for 40 minutes, the coast guard was able to get Schettino by telephone. The coast guard asked him how many people were still aboard.
“Two, three hundred,” Schettino said.
Ten minutes later, the coast guard called again. Italian paper Il Fatto reports that Schettino had at this point left the ship and climbed over the rocks to shore. The paper quoted a local fire brigade commander in its report.
The coast guard asked Schettino again how many people were still aboard.
“I've called the ship owners, and they tell me that about 40 people are missing,” he replied.
“So few? How is that possible?” the coast guard asked, then asked: “But you’re on board?”
“No. I’m not on board because the bows of the ship are coming up. We’ve abandoned her.”
“What do you mean? You’ve abandoned ship?”
“No. No way have I abandoned ship. I’m here,” Schettino replied.
At 1:46 a.m., the final call came, from a coast guard officer, who, after confirming it was the captain, told him: “Right. You are now going back on board. You are going to go back up the rope ladder, return to the bridge and co-ordinate operations.”
Il Fatto reports there was a long silence.
The coast guard officer then said: “You tell me how many people there are. ... How many passengers, women and children – and co-ordinate the rescue.”
The coast guard officer gets increasingly angry with the captain. “You may have saved yourself from the sea, but I will really hurt you. I will cause you so much trouble,” he says.
Schettino insisted he was on a resuce boat coordinating efforts.
“Captain,” the coast guard officer interrupted him. “This is an order. Now I am in command. You have declared the abandoning of a ship. I am in charge. There are already dead bodies.”
“How many?” Schettino asked.
“You’re the one who should be telling me that,” the officer said. “What do you want to do? Go home? It’s dark and you want to go home? Go back up and tell me what can be done: how many people there are and what they need.”
“Alright,” Schettino said. “I'm going.”
Warning: There is obscene language in the following translation.
See photos of the ship run aground here.