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The captain of the disaster-struck Costa Concordia cruise ship is being blamed for the tragedy, with some suggesting he sailed too close to rocks in order to salute a fellow officer on the shore.

Francesco Schettino (pictured below) is reportedly being held on suspicion of manslaughter after the cruise ship he was commanding hit rocks off the Mediterranean island of Giglio on Friday evening, with more than 4200 people onboard.



So far six have been found dead and 14 are still missing. The ship began to sink as a 50m gash torn in its hull by the rocks allowed the liner to start taking on water.

Reports are rife that Schettino abandoned ship while passengers were still being rescued, earning him a new nickname - Captain Coward.

Italian investigators are also working on the theory that Schettino sailed too close to the island of Giglio to greet an officer from the Italian merchant navy who was friendly with staff onboard the Concordia.



The mayor of Giglio, Sergio Ortelli, is reported to have said that it was usual for ships to sail close to the island to give tourists a "spectacular view".

Eyewitnesses have also reported crew members "barging" female passengers out of the way to get to the life boats first.



Rescue divers are continuing to search submerged parts of the ship before it sinks fully.

The crash has sparked fears for the future of the cruise industry.

Images: Getty


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Cruise ship disaster: captain arrested and 'blamed for tragedy'
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