Experts go onboard Costa Concordia

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The Costa Concordia was raised in September. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP
08:36 CET+01:00
A team of experts climbed aboard the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise liner for the first time on Thursday, looking for evidence of what happened the night of the fatal crash which killed 32 people.

Investigators were joined by judges from a court in the nearby town of Grossetto, where the ship's captain Francesco Schettino is standing trial for multiple manslaughter and causing a shipwreck.

Lawyers and experts for both the defence and plaintiffs visited areas of the doomed vessel which had been underwater for two years before the ship was righted in a mammoth operation in September.

"We found two computers on the bridge of the Costa Concordia which will have to be analyzed," judge Giovanni Puliatti told Italian media.

However, Admiral Giuseppe Cavo Dragone, head of the court-appointed experts, said that the time spent underwater meant "the computers will be completely unusable because they are oxidized."

"We will see whether we can get something off them, and if they can add elements to the evidence already recovered from the black box," he said.

The vessel's automatic pilot, which registers all the ship's data, was also examined during the five-hour inspection and its hard-disk was collected in case the memory card inside has not been damaged by the water.

The defence hopes something may be found to support their claim that mechanical failures contributed to the gravity of the accident - such as a maintenance log.

Lawyers for survivors and families of the victims are keen to see whether others, as well as Schettino, may have been to blame for the crash.

The giant luxury cruise ship - more than twice as big as the Titanic - had 4,229 people on board when it struck an offshore reef near the Italian island of Giglio on the evening of January 13th 2012, tearing a massive gash in its hull.

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The vessel quickly took on water, veered sharply and keeled over just a few dozen metres from the shore, sparking a panicky night-time evacuation.

Schettino has admitted to carrying out a risky "salute manoeuvre", sailing so close to the island the ship ran aground in the dark. He is also accused of abandoning ship before all the passengers had been carried to safety.

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