Concordia captain dined with young blonde before crash

Jan 20, 2012

Video footage shows crew telling passengers 'go back to your cabins' even as ship was sinking

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THE CAPTAIN of the cruise liner Costa Concordia was seen drinking wine with a glamorous blonde woman minutes before steering the ship onto the rocks, while footage has emerged of crew members telling passengers to return to their cabins, even after the liner began taking in water after the accident last Friday.

Italian media reports that Francesco Schettino, who is under house arrest accused of manslaughter and abandoning ship after the accident that killed at least 11, was spotted dining with a woman, thought to be 25-year-old Moldovan Domnica Cermontan, who worked for the cruise company.

Italian newspaper Il Secolo XIX quotes a passenger, Angelo Fabbri, saying the captain was drinking red wine with the woman in one of the liner's restaurants. He claimed they were there until 9.05pm, half an hour before the crash.

According to The Daily Telegraph, the pair then went to the bridge together. "She was said to have been there at the moment of impact."

She has since given interviews praising Schettino, who is married with a child, and said she was not on the bridge until 11.50pm. It is believed she was called there to address passengers in Russian.

Meanwhile recordings from the ship in the aftermath of the accident appear to confirm that passengers and the coastguard were initially told that there was an electrical problem, nothing worse..

A video posted on Italian news site Rainews24 shows a female crew member telling passengers, wearing lifejackets, to go back to their cabins. She says: "We are going to fix the problem that we have with the generator. Everything will be fine. If you want to stand here, it's OK, but I am asking you to go back to your rooms and be calm." Yet the ship was already taking in water.

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