Costa Concordia Captain Apologizes for Cruise Sinking

Francesco Schettino told an Italian television station he was 'sorry' for the accident that cost the lives of 30 passengers and crew.

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Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino expressed regret over the disaster that took the lives of more than 30 people in January in a television interview.

Speaking to Italy’s Canale 5 television channel, Schettino said he thought about the victims constantly and was “sorry” for what happened. When he was asked about the death of a five-year-old girl on the ship, he was reported to have broken down.

(PHOTOS: Italy’s Stricken Costa Concordia)

Prosecutors are claiming that the captain was distracted while talking on the phone when the incident happened. (Original speculation following the incident surmised that the captain was trying to impress a young woman on the bridge.)

However, that’s not what Schettino insisted during Tuesday’s interview. He said he wasn’t even on the bridge when the ship ran aground, dumping the blame on another officer. “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 reportedly told Italy’s Canale 5 television.

(MORE: Costa Concordia Crew Downplayed Cruise Disaster, Told Passengers to “Return to Your Cabin”)

A judge recently lifted Schettino’s house arrest in June, but the former captain who abandoned ship is not allowed to leave his hometown near Naples while the criminal investigation is still underway. He is scheduled to appear at a court hearing later this month while the court reviews new evidence. The court will then decide as to whether Schettino will stand trial.

The Costa Concordia crashed just off the western coast of Italy on Jan. 13, causing over 4,000 people to evacuate the cruise liner and sparking numerous environmental concerns. Over 30 people are presumed dead.

MORECosta Concordia to Be Removed In One Piece

 Erica Ho is a contributor at TIME and the editor of Map Happy. Find her on Twitter at @ericamho and Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.