NEWS
03/02/2012 04:16 GMT | Updated 03/02/2012 08:41 GMT

Costa Concordia: Domnica Cemortan, 'I Am In Love With Captain Francesco Schettino'

The blonde Moldovan who is at the centre of the mystery over the final hours of the Costa Concordia before it ran aground has told investigators she is in love with Captain Francesco Schettino.

Former dancer Domnica Cemortan was spotted drinking and dining with the captain on the bridge of the luxury liner at the time of the tragedy, which killed 17. A further 15 people are still missing.

It has been reported the captain was trying to impress her when the tragedy occurred.

The 25-year-old initially denied any romantic involvement with the married captain, but last night reportedly admitted her feelings after divers found her lingerie in his cabin. Other items of her clothing and a makeup bag were also found among his belongings, the Times said.

She told Italian newspaper La Stampa: “Yes, it’s true. I am in love with Captain Schettino.”

According to the Daily Express, Cemortan was questioned by Italian prosecutors investigating the disaster for more than five hours this week.

She reportedly told them: "I was on the bridge because I was in love with the captain. I found him charming and fascinating. I love him.

"I was on the bridge as his guest. It's not right that his image is being destroyed."

Prosecutors have accused Captain Schettino of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his ship while passengers were still stranded.