MOSCOW, July 11 (RIA Novosti)
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The captain of Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia, which capsized after hitting rocks, killing more than 30 people in January, has apologized for the disaster but said it was a "banal accident" in which "destiny" played a role.
"When there's an accident, it is not just the ship that is identified or the company, the captain is identified and so it's normal that I should apologize as a representative of this system," Francesco Schettino said in an interview with Canale 5 television.
He said he thought constantly about the victims but also considered himself to be a victim.
Schettino said he blamed himself for being "distracted" but said he had not been on the bridge when the ship ran aground.
"At that moment, I went up to the deck and ordered the ship to be put on manual navigation and I didn't have command, that's to say being in charge of sailing the ship, that was the officer," he said.
"This is a banal accident in which destiny found space right in the interaction among human beings," Schettino added.
A criminal investigation is ongoing in which Schettino is accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the liner while many passengers and crew were still aboard.
Schettino has denies the charges of manslaughter and causing a shipwreck.
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The main event of the third day of the 11th meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi was the closing session with President Vladimir Putin. The atmosphere was calm and open, despite the current political tensions and the Russia-West confrontation. The Russian president said that it corresponded to the spirit of the Valdai Club.