Italian coast guard Capt. Gregorio De Falco (center) has become a national hero for ordering the captain of a sinking cruise liner to get back onboard and oversee the ship's evacuation. Here, De Falco arrives in court for a hearing on Tuesday.
Credit Giacomo Aprili / AP
Five days after a cruise liner slammed into rocks off Italy's Tuscan coast, the country is gripped by the contrasting profiles of two key figures in the drama — the captain charged with abandoning ship and the captain who demanded he get back onboard.
For many Italians, the accident has become a metaphor for a country that sees itself mired in economic and moral decline.
Francesco Schettino, the disgraced captain of the 1,000-foot-long floating palace known as the Costa Concordia, is under house arrest on suspicion of multiple manslaughter, shipwreck and abandoning ship.
The luxury cruise ship Costa Concordia leans on its side after running aground on the tiny Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy. One maritime workers union called the disaster a "wake-up call" highlighting long-standing safety concerns and what it sees as lax regulation.
NPR's Sylvia Poggioli, reporting on the dramatic phone call
Dramatic audio has emerged of an irate Italian Coast Guard officer ordering the captain of the cruise ship Costa Concordia to "get back on board!" as the stricken vessel lay crippled off the coast of Tuscany on Friday night.
As NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports, in the telephone call Coast Guard Capt. Gregorio De Falco shouts as he accuses Costa Concordia Capt. Francesco Schettino of abandoning his ship. Schettino was apparently sitting in a row boat at the time.
Divers and other rescue personnel are still trying to reach areas of the cruise ship Costa Concordia that haven't yet been explored in a bid to see if any of the 29 people who remain unaccounted for after Friday's crash off the Italian coast of Tuscany might be alive.
But as the BBC reports, hopes are fading. As of this hour, six people are known to have died. More than 4,200 passengers and crew were on board when it struck rocks, took on water and listed on to its starboard side.