'Drinking, drugs rife among Costa crew'
THE Costa Concordia and other cruise ships owned by the same company were hotbeds of sexual harassment, drinking and drug abuse, former crew members have claimed.
Two female ex-crew members have reportedly told Italian prosecutors leading the investigation into the sinking of the vessel six weeks ago that they saw officers snorting cocaine, drinking to the point of inebriation and harassing female staff.
Captain Francesco Schettino, the commander of the vessel, "used women as goods to be exchanged", one of the women said, according to two Italian dailies.
The two women, one a nurse and the other a passenger rep, worked on the Costa Concordia and other ships owned by Costa Cruises in 2009 and 2010.
Their claims are reportedly contained in 5000 pages of evidence.
The nurse, identified only as Valentina B., said she worked with Schettino on the Costa Atlantica in January and February 2010, but resigned because she had encountered "corruption, drugs and prostitution".
"I saw officers taking cocaine," she reportedly told investigators.
The second woman, identified as Mary G, told prosecutors: "Very often the officers and other members of the crew were drunk. We'd say to ourselves, 'If there's an emergency, who's going to save the ship?'"
She claimed to have been "molested" by a crew member who was high on drugs.
Costa Cruises did not respond to the specific allegations but said there were "strict regulations" on all its ships against the use of illegal drugs.