Officials investigating the Costa Concordia disaster have received claims that wealthy passengers bought their way onto the lifeboats of the sinking cruise ship, the Sun has reported.
According to at least one survivor interviewed by the German media, “healthy men and elegant women in evening gowns who were speaking Russian” stuffed “wads of cash” into the pockets of the cruise ship’s crew to ensure seats on the lifeboats.
A U.S. spokesperson for the Costa Concordia declined comment, the report said.
The claims of buying their way to safety comes on the heels of the Captain Francesco Schettino’s claim that he tripped and fell into a lifeboat before passengers were led to safety.
Two more bodies were pulled from the wreckage on Tuesday, bringing the death total to 16. Meanwhile, hoping to avert an environmental catastrophe, crews are working to pump the almost 2,400 tons of fuel from the ship, which hit rock and sank off the Italian coast on Jan. 13.
—ANGELA DAIDONE, NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM