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Moldovan Crew Member: Italian Ship Captain 'Did A Great Thing'

A woman who was seen dining with the captain of the Costa Concordia the night the luxury liner crashed off the Italian coast is defending him. The AP reports that the woman, whom Italian authorities want to interview, is Dominican Cermotan, a 25-year-old Moldovan, who worked for Costa as a hostess but was not on duty the day of the incident.

"He did a great thing, he saved over 3,000 lives," Cermotan told Moldova's Jurnal TV, according to the AP.

As we've reported, Capt. Francesco Schettino has been cast as a coward for not staying on the ship until the evacuation was complete. But Cermotan paints a different picture of Schettino.

She told Jurnal TV that she was called to the ship's deck to translate evacuation instructions for Russians on board. She said the captain was still on the ship at 11:50 p.m., when he ordered her to get on a lifeboat. That was about two hours after the ship crashed into the reef.

In statements to prosecutors, yesterday, Schettino admitted that he had taken the ship off course. According to Bloomberg, Schettino "underestimated the damage" and "gave the evacuation order more than an hour after the ship hit rocks by the island, delaying rescue operations, according to the document."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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