VIDEO footage has emerged of the crew of the Costa Concordia cruise ship telling passengers that "the situation is under control" – despite the fact that it was fast taking on water after hitting a rocky shoal off the island of Giglio.
The video, recorded by a passenger, shows worried tourists in life jackets standing on one of the massive ship’s decks.
A female crew member tells them in Italian: “It’s all under control. Please return to your cabins.”
“We have resolved the problem that we had, and we invite everyone to return to their cabins,” the crew member says, in footage which was obtained by Italy’s state broadcaster, Rai TV.
Just 30 minutes later, the order was given to abandon the ship as Capt Francisco Schettino grounded it on Giglio’s rocky coast.
He has been accused of gross negligence and fatal complacency in not telling passengers that the ship had torn a huge gash in its hull after colliding with the rocks.
After feeling a massive jolt, passengers were simply told that there had been a “black out” and that the situation would return to normal as soon as possible.
Navy and coast guard divers had to suspend their search operations on Friday morning after the crippled 1,000ft liner, which lies in shallow water close to Giglio’s shore, again shifted in its position.
They have been concentrating on deck four, where several bodies have been found, which is at a depth of around 18 metres.
Seas were choppy around the island and the weather was expected to worsen through the day, with strong winds and big waves.
The death toll from the disaster is 11 but more than 20 people, including Italians and two Americans, remain missing.