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News & views

Captain catastrophe becomes expert on panic (if not shame)

[20 Aug 2014] To a chorus of dismay in Italy, postgraduate students at Rome’s La Sapienza University have been treated to a lecture on how to handle ‘situations of crisis and panic’ by Francesco Schettino, commander of the Costa Concordia, which ran aground off the island of Giglio with the loss of 32 lives.

Schettino famously claimed that the reason he was able to scramble ashore while passengers struggled to save themselves was that he had ‘accidentally tripped’ and fallen into a lifeboat. He remains on trial for multiple manslaughter and abandoning the ship hours before its evacuation was complete.

Schettino told La Nazione newspaper, ‘I was invited [by the university] because I am an expert. I illustrated how situations of panic should be managed, discussing the human element in these situations.’

La Sapienza’s rector said the university had known nothing about the lecture until a newspaper reported it, and he called the episode ‘shameful’. Perhaps feeling a hand on his collar, the academic who organized the lecture also professed dismay, saying Schettino had turned up ‘by surprise’ and spoken for ten minutes.

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