July 21, 2012 Updated July 23, 2012
Delays in analysing all the data from the ship's instruments mean the pre-trial hearing -- which was opened and adjourned today -- will have to be put back until October 15, Judge Valeria Montesarchio confirmed at a courthouse in Grosseto, central Italy.
Nine people are being investigated including three executives from Carnival Corp.-owned Costa Cruises, Europe's biggest cruise operator; and the captain, Francesco Schettino, who is accused of abandoning ship before the evacuation was completed.
Costa Concordia crashed into rocks off the island of Giglio, in Tuscany, on the night of Friday January 13th, 2012, with the loss of at least 32 lives.
Investigators are trying to establish why the 114,500-tonne, 3,000-passenger ship was sailing so close to the island and why the evacuation was delayed for at least an hour, and are hoping the black box will reveal the chain of events which led to the tragedy.
Earlier this month, an Italian newspaper published leaked reports claiming the black box recorder was faulty. Watertight doors designed to prevent flooding were left open, the ship had faulty instruments and was using unapproved maps were also cited in the report published by Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
One e-mail quoted Costa's technical director Pierfrancesco Ferro telling a repair firm: "The VDR (Voyage Data Recorder) has broken down for the umpteenth time... The situation is becoming unbearable."
Costa Cruises admitted there was report of a fault with the VDR but that it was working on the night that the ship hit a rocky reef and sank off the island of Giglio.
No trial is expected until the beginning of next year at the earliest.
The Costa Concordia lies keeled over on an underwater shelf just off the coast of the island. Costa Cruises is planning to right it and tow it away for scrapping in a salvage operation that is unprecedented for its scale.
In a separate development, an Italian newspaper has reported the cruise line has reached a “six-figure” settlement with the family of the youngest victim Dayana Arlotti, 5 years old, who died with her father, Williams Arlotti.
--by Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor