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Costa Concordia: Captain Told Authorities 'Everything Was Fine'

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The captain of a cruise ship wrecked off the Italian coast told port authorities everything was fine shortly before the vessel sank, it has emerged.

The new details emerged as it was reported that five more bodies have been discovered by rescuers on the ship.

According to reports the captain, Francesco Schettino, claimed there was only a "small technical failure" - but in fact the Costa Concordia had already run aground, according to the timings of a radio conversation obtained by Italian media.

The question from a port official came at 9.49pm on Friday over the ship radio: "Concordia, is everything ok?"

The response from the ship was "positive", Il Fatto Quotidiano reported.

But five minutes later the operations room at Livorno port was said to have contacted the liner again after a passenger had allegedly reported a problem and mentioned the word "shipwreck".

The inquiry was reportedly again met with the response: "It is just a technical problem."

Later, at 12.42am, the captain was said to have claimed there were only about 40 missing and said he was not on board.

According to the transcript of the conversation, the port official insisted: "You must tell me how many people there are, how many passengers, women and children, and co-ordinate the rescue operation."

The captain was said to have replied: "I am on board ... But I am here."

He finally assured the official he was going to carry out his orders - but at that point he was allegedly already reaching the Tuscan shore and jumping in a taxi, Il Fatto Quotidiano reported.

Capt Schettino is being investigated by prosecutors for possible manslaughter, abandoning ship and causing a shipwreck and will learn today whether he must remain in jail while the probe is carried out.

He has been accused of leaving the vessel before ensuring that all of the 4,200 people aboard, including 35 Britons, were safely evacuated.

But he insisted in an interview before his jailing that he stayed with the vessel to the end.

The chairman of Costa Cruises yesterday blamed the captain for making an unauthorised deviation from the cruise's route so that he could "make a salute".

Pier Luigi Foschi has apologised for the tragedy which has left dozens of people injured and the 114,000-tonne ship lying on its side.