Eleven people died when that cruise ship crashed into rocks off the cost of Italy last week and partially sank, and 23 people are still missing. The captain of the ship, however, is not one of them because he abandoned ship and wound up in a lifeboat. Naturally, Italian authorities wanted to know why he was one of the first people off, and you know what he told them? He said that as he was helping passengers ... he TRIPPED into a life-boat. Seriously. That's the story he's sticking to. See! He's no coward, he ACCIDENTALLY abandoned ship!

He told the Rome newspaper 'La Repubblica', quote, "The passengers were pouring onto the decks, taking the lifeboats by assault. I was trying to get people to get into the boats in an orderly fashion. Suddenly, since the ship was at a 60 to 70 degree angle, I tripped and I ended up in one of the boats."

Meanwhile, this incredible satellite photo of the ship on its side taken Tuesday (Jan. 17) was released by Digital Globe, a Colorado-based company that uses spacecraft to take high-resolution images of Earth.