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The New Year so far had not been a lucky one for the Italian sea faring lot, especially the captains of the Italian vessels. First there was the Costa Concordia disaster, resulting in the death of several people which, many believe, could have been avoided by timely action of its captain Francesco Schettino and the Costa Cruise Company. In fact the scandalous behavior of the captain has gone in to the history books with his arrest on charges of his having caused the shipwreck
"owing to ... imprudence, negligence and incompetence" resulting in deaths, having abandoned about 300 people "unable to fend for themselves", and "not having been the last to leave" a shipwreck”
Even before the dust from the biggest disaster of the year so far has settled and the agony and pain from the disaster, with seven people still unaccounted, lingering for several families and their relatives, another Italian vessel, its captain and marines employed for its protection are embroiled in a International row on account of two unarmed fishermen from Kerala, a southern Indian State, who were shot dead on the high seas.
If the circumstances which lead to the Costa Concordia disaster were unbelievably insane, given the safety standard one would take for granted in the 21st century maritime life, the events which lead to the death of the two fishermen and the arrest of the Italian marines by the local police of an Indian state are right out of an exotic thriller.
Apparently the unbelievable incidence of shooting from a bobbing ship, killing precisely two unarmed persons in a bobbing and approaching boat, took place in broad daylight, in Indian waters at the orders of its captain!
The Italians claim that the ship and the pirates they shot at with warning shots away from targets, eventually thwarting the pirates and their boat from approaching the ship, were different from the boat and the fishermen who were killed.
Once again, an Italian Captain is in the centre of a controversy for lack of clarity and straight forward explanation of an in incident which has blown out of all proportions and grown in to a major international and diplomatic row between India and Italy.
So far, Italian ministers who have flown to India were unable to dissolve the issue which has become a maddeningly sensitive enough to upset the results of a local election, vital for the ruling congress party with stakes in the state and central government.
The incidence has also brought up severe lack of clarity as to the onus among the ship owners, the Italian navy and the Italian government regarding culpability of shooting and murdering innocent unarmed foreign nationals from Italian owned vessels in international waters.
To add further to the pain and lack of trust of the people of coastal Kerala , which look at the whole incidence with suspicion, another boat has been sunk in a collision with a ship, which has gone without reporting the incidence, killing two fishermen with three others missing.
When you consider the fate of the latest Costa Cruise vessel Costa Allegra, which went out of power supply and had to be towed from high seas, leaving its passengers with out food and other necessities for three days, it looks like the maritime diversions from life are certainly jinxed, at least for the Italian sea men!
Article first published as Why Are Italian Captains, Like Costa Cruise, Not The Flavour Of The Month? on Technorati.

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