Costa Concordia: Dramatic New Pictures From The Night The Cruise Liner Sank

Some of the first dramatic images depicting the last moments of the Costa Concordia have been caught on film, showing the stricken liner and lifeboats scattered in the black water.

Since the ship struck rocks off the island of Giglio, pictures of the sinking ship the Costa Concordia have been seen on news sites around the world, showing the liner semi-submerged in the surrounding sea.

However these are among the first pictures to show the cruise liner in the early hours of the tragedy.

In the images the Costa Concordia is still brightly lit, showing the ship as she looked before the disaster.

The illumination and its slight list show the extent of the disastrous crash, and how far it has tilted since rocks pierced the hull of the ship and began to let in water.

The Costa Concordia just hours after it struck rocks off the Italian island of Giglio

The events leading up to the collision are still a matter of confusion, while Francesco Schettino, Captain of the Costa Concordia, remains under house arrest at his home in Naples.

He claims that captains were encouraged to diverge from the approved course, and sail close to the islands to give passengers the 'complete experience'. Secret police tapes revealed his phone conversation to a friend, made less than 24 hours after the crash. He was reported to have said:

"Management was always saying 'pass by there, pass by there'. Someone else in my position might not have been so amenable to pass so close but they busted my balls, pass by there, pass by there, and now I'm paying for it."

Schettino's wife spoke to Italian weekly magazine Oggi on 25 January to defend her husband, saying that the media was wrong to portray him as a "monster."

“My husband is at the centre of an unprecedented global media storm," Rossi told Oggi.

"Who is at sea sails, who is on soil judges.

"I cannot think of any other naval or air tragedy in which the responsible party was treated with such violence... This is a manhunt, people are looking for a scapegoat, a monster. It's shameful."

An estimated 4,200 people had to be evacuated from the cruise ship when it ran into trouble. There are 16 people still missing, and 16 have been confirmed dead.

Authorities are to begin pumping oil out of the vessel at the weekend, in an operation that is expected to last around four weeks.

The cruise liner continues to list at a sharper angle, as more water enters the boat