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New Audio Shows Coast Guard Demanding Italian Capt. Return to Sinking Ship: 'It Is an Order


"I am going to make you pay for this. Go on board, (expletive)!"

(The Blaze/AP) -- The first black box recordings from the captain of the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia have been released and reveal that the Italian coast guard had to beg, and even threaten, the captain to go back to his crippled cruise ship to oversee its evacuation.

Prosecutors have accused Capt. Francesco Schettino of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his ship before all passengers were evacuated.

The cruise ship was grounded off the Tuscan coast on Friday night. The death toll nearly doubled to 11 on Tuesday when divers extracted five more bodies from the ship's wreckage. All were adults wearing life jackets and were found in rear of the ship near an emergency evacuation point, according to Italian Coast Guard Cmdr. Cosimo Nicastro. He said they were thought to have been passengers.

Schettino had made an unauthorized deviation from the cruise ship's programmed course Friday night, apparently as a favor to his chief waiter, who hailed from the island. Schettino has insisted that he stayed aboard until the ship was evacuated. However, a recording of his conversation with Italian Coast Guard Capt. Gregorio De Falco indicates he fled before all passengers were off - and then resisted De Falco's repeated orders to return.

"You go on board and then you will tell me how many people there are. Is that clear?" De Falco shouted in the audio tape.

Schettino resisted, saying the ship was tipping and it was dark. At the time, he and his second-in-command were in a lifeboat and the captain said he was coordinating the rescue from there. He also said he was not going back on board the ship "because the other lifeboat is stopped." Passengers have said many lifeboats on the exposed port side of the ship didn't winch down after the ship had capsized.

De Falco shouted back: "And so what? You want to go home, Schettino? It is dark and you want to go home? Get on that prow of the boat using the pilot ladder and tell me what can be done, how many people there are and what their needs are. Now!"

"You go aboard. It is an order. Don't make any more excuses. You have declared 'Abandon ship,' now I am in charge," De Falco shouted.

At one point, De Falco vowed "I'm going to make sure you get in trouble. ...I am going to make you pay for this. Go on board, (expletive)!"

Schettino was finally heard agreeing to reboard on the tape. But the coast guard has said he never went back, and had police arrest him on land.

Schettino recounted his version of events before prosecutors and a judge at a preliminary hearing Tuesday as to whether he should stay jailed, as requested by prosecutors. The judge deferred an immediate decision. The captain could face up to 12 years in prison on the abandoning ship charge alone.

Schettino's attorney, Bruno Leporatti, said in the hearing, the captain had insisted that after the initial crash into the reefs, he had maneuvered the ship close to shore in a way that "saved hundreds if not thousands of lives."

Leporatti told Sky TG24 TV and the Italian news agency ANSA Tuesday that a judge turned down prosecutors' request to keep Capt. Schettino in jail, and a defense bid to set him free. He has been released from jail and placed under house arrest.

This all comes as dramatic new night vision video has been released showing the rescue:

The Miami-based Carnival Corp., which owns the Italian operator, estimated that preliminary losses from having the Concordia out of operation at least through 2012 would be between $85 million and $95 million, along with other costs. The company's share price slumped more than 16 percent Monday.

It was not yet clear if the ship - which was completed in 2006 - would ever be able to return to service.

Carnival said its deductible on damage to the ship was approximately $30 million. In addition, the company faces a deductible of $10 million for third-party personal injury liability claims.

Carnival said other costs related to the grounding can't yet be determined.

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