'Madonna, what have I done?'

29 October 2013 - 02:03 By © The Daily Telegraph
Captain Francesco Schettino
Captain Francesco Schettino

Captain Francesco Schettino exclaimed: "Madonna, what have I done?" when the Costa Concordia smashed into rocks off the Italian island off Giglio, a court heard.

"Did we hit a reef?" the commander of the 290m-long cruise liner asked his fellow officers.

This is according to an audio recording played in court yesterday in Grosseto, Tuscany, Italy, where he is on trial for abandoning ship, causing a shipwreck and the death of 32 passengers.

The Concordia rammed into a rocky shoal a few yards from the coast of Giglio on the night of January 13 last year.

Salvatore Ursino, one of the ship's junior officers, said five minutes before the ship hit the rocks, Schettino ordered his deputy, Ciro Ambrosio, to increase its speed from 15 knots to 16.

The court heard that on the bridge that night was Domnica Cemortan, a Moldovan former ship's dancer who has strenuously denied that she was romantically involved with Schettino.

Cemortan is due to give evidence today. Also on the bridge was Antonello Tievoli, the ship's head waiter, originally from Giglio. Schettino allegedly sailed the ship close to the island to impress him.

After hitting the rocks, the Concordia limped on for a few hundred metres before capsizing in shallow water.