Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino was with a mystery blonde woman when his ship ran aground off an Italian island, killing at least 11, it emerged today.
The woman is believed to be 25-year-old passenger rep Domnica Cemortan, and she is reported to have been on the bridge with the captain at the time of the tragedy because he was trying to impress her.
Italian investigators want to interview Cemortan, who is Moldovian, and according to her Facebook page lives in Bucharest, Romania.
In interviews with a Moldovan television station, Jurnal TV, and a Moldovan newspaper, she claims she was only on the bridge after the accident occurred.
Prosecutors have accused Captain Schettino of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his ship while passengers were still stranded.
Some two dozen passengers and crew are still unaccounted for.
As the search for the missing continued, Italian media published a recording of a conversation between Schettino and the port authorities in which the captain was ordered not to abandon his stricken ship after it hit rocks.
Schettino, who is currently under house arrest, had begun by claiming everything was fine, shortly before the ship keeled over off the Tuscan coast with 4,200 on board, according to the timings of the recording.
Italians are venting spleen against Schettino with T-shirts, Facebook pages and Twitter hashtags urging him to “Get Back On Board, For F****’s Sake”.
The command, made via telephone by a furious Italian Coast Guard official has come to symbolise the entire disaster which has seen 11 people lose their lives.