Page last updated at 10:02 GMT, Tuesday, 24 January 2012

European Parliament

Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas has told MEPs that the Commission remains committed to bringing in new rules to improve passenger ship safety.

He gave evidence to the parliament's Transport Committee on 24 January 2012, following the capsizing of the Costa Concordia off the coast of Italy on 13 January.

At least 15 people are confirmed to have died aboard the cruise ship after it ran aground.

There were 4,200 people were on board at the time, and 18 people are still unaccounted for.

The Commission is already in the process of carrying out a review of marine safety - and Commissioner Kallas said that any lessons learned from the Costa Concordia tragedy would be taken into account.

"The tragic accident illustrates that safety is the first concern," he told MEPs.

He added: "Shipping has an impressive safety record despite intense levels of traffic."

The captain of the Costa Concordia, Francesco Schettino, is being detained under house arrest while his actions are investigated.

He is accused of multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck, and abandoning the ship before it was evacuated. He denies the allegations.

However British Conservative MEP Jacqueline Foster warned against "trial by television and trial by newspapers".

Her concerns were echoed by the chair of the committee, British Labour MEP Brian Simpson, who said it was all to easy to point the finger of blame, "but it's good practice to wait until the official report".

The Commission's maritime safety review will investigate the design and stability of passenger ships, crew training and safe operation, including emergency evacuation procedures.

The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) has been in close contact with the Italian authorities to accompany the rescue and investigation operations.

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