The captain of the Costa Concordia was drinking and dining with a young blonde Moldovan woman just before his vessel ran aground off the island of Giglio, it has emerged.

Domnica Cemortan, a cruise ship passenger rep and former dancer, was also reported to have been on the bridge with Francesco Schettino on the night of the disaster.

Several passengers claimed they saw Mr Schettino and a woman resembling Miss Cemortan sharing a decanter of red wine shortly before the disaster. On Thursday night investigators were trying to trace the 25-year-old as they believe she may be able to shed light on what happened when the cruise liner collided with a rocky outcrop off Giglio and capsized, leading to the loss of at least 11 lives.

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