Cruise ship's cook says captain ordered dinner after crash

Woman defends cruise ship captain
Woman defends cruise ship captain

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Story highlights

  • The cruise company says the woman accompanying the captain boarded Friday
  • Cook: "We really felt something was wrong"
  • The ship's captain ordered dinner after the collision, the cook says
  • "I wasn't that scared, but I did wonder ... what the captain was doing," the cook says

The captain of the Costa Concordia ordered dinner for himself and a woman after the ship struck rocks off Italy's coast, a cook from the ship told a Filipino television station.

In an interview with GMA Network, cook Rogelio Barista said Capt. Francesco Schettino ordered dinner less than an hour after the accident.

"We wondered what was going on. ... At that time, we really felt something was wrong. ... The stuff in the kitchen was falling off shelves and we realized how grave the situation was," Barista told GMA.

Schettino ordered dinner around 10:30 p.m. Friday, Barista said. Authorities say the ship struck the rocks at 9:41 p.m.

"I have had 12 years of experience as a cook on a cruise ship. ... I have even witnessed fires, so I wasn't that scared," Barista said. "But I did wonder, though, what the captain was doing ... why was he still there."

Italian media have published photos of the woman purportedly dining with the captain.

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Costa Cruises, which owns the ship, said the woman boarded the ship Friday and registered.

"The company is ready to provide the authorities, when requested, with the identity of the person and the number of the ticket purchased," the company said.

The ship hit rocks off the coast of the Italian island of Giglio on Friday night.

At least 11 people are known to have died in the disaster, and 21 are still missing, according to the Italian Crisis Unit.

There were roughly 4,200 people on the Costa Concordia when it ran aground -- about 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members, the vast majority of whom made it off the ship safely.

Criticism from both Costa Cruises and the authorities has focused so far on Schettino, who is under house arrest and facing possible charges of manslaughter, shipwreck and abandoning ship.

Coast guard records published Thursday by an Italian newspaper pile further pressure on the captain of the Concordia and his officers, suggesting authorities first became aware of the crash from a friend of the mother of a passenger about 15 minutes after the ship hit rocks.

Schettino's brother-in-law defended him in an Italian newspaper Thursday.

Schettino "managed to avoid a tragedy -- it could have been worse," Maurilio Russo said in Corriere della Sera.

And he denied that the captain had abandoned ship.

"He was not running away, he came down (from the ship) to survey the damage," Russo said.