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Italian captain refuses to coordinate evacuation: media

(Xinhua)

08:17, January 18, 2012

GIGLIO, Italy, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- A recorded conversation between the captain of Italy's wrecked cruise liner and a port official released on Tuesday by local media said that the captain left the ship before all passengers had evacuated.

In the phone conversation, which was recorded after the crash, captain Francesco Schettino refused to go back to the Costa Concordia to coordinate rescue operations, as ordered by local port authority chief Gregorio De Falco.

"You have to go aboard, this is an order," De Falco repeatedly told Schettino after finding that the captain is already on a lifeboat together with other officials.

"Go back to the ship, and tell me immediately how many children, women and people in need of protection there are on board," De Falco said.

The captain, however, who has been arrested over charges of manslaughter and abandoning ship, is heard replying that there were rescuers on board, that he himself had no choice but getting into the lifeboat, and finally that it is dark and hard to see.

The death toll from the wreck of Italian cruise liner Costa Concordia rose to 11 on Tuesday as five more bodies were found in the vessel.

According to local authorities, 24 people from the ship are now still missing, and chances of them being found alive are getting slimmer.

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