Prosecution witnesses at the trial of Capt. Francesco Schettino painted a picture of chaos aboard the Costa Concordia on the night the cruise liner sank, as they testified Tuesday in Italy.
The cruise liner capsized after it struck rocks off Italy's Giglio Island in the Tyrrhenian Sea in January 2012, killing 32 of the 4,200 people on board.
Schettino faces charges of manslaughter, causing a maritime disaster and abandoning ship with passengers still on board. He denies wrongdoing.
Among several key witnesses Tuesday, on the second day of prosecution testimony against Schettino, was Moldovan dancer Domnica Cemortan, who dined with the captain and was with him on the command bridge at the time of the accident.
Cemortan, who boarded the ship as a passenger but had worked on another Costa Cruises ship captained by Schettino a few weeks earlier, conceded under questioning that she had been romantically involved with him.
Everything seemed normal at first on the bridge, she told the court, but then she heard Schettino giving orders, and then "speaking angrily, yelling, to another officer" and telling him to obey the order.
She heard the alarms go off on the bridge, triggering chaos and confusion. She heard a call from the engine room that "water had entered the ship."
The dancer left the bridge with Schettino and crew member Ciro Onorato, she said, following them around the vessel because she wasn't sure where they were going. They ended up near some lifeboats, where "it was very slippery," she said.
She and Onorato helped other passengers for about half an hour while the captain returned to the bridge, she said. Then Onorato pulled her into a lifeboat that also held other crew members. The boat hung over the side, and some panicked passengers fell into the water, she said.
Cemortan said she has suffered psychological issues and taken medication to deal with the mass media attention after the wreck. She is also a party to the civil case against the captain.
Disappointed by captain's actions
Onorato, who had dined with the pair, earlier told the court he was disappointed by Schettino's handling of events during and after the accident.
Under cross-examination, Onorato was quizzed about Schettino's movements around the cruise liner and about how they both came to leave the ship.
Onorato gave the same account as Schettino has given -- that the ship was falling on top of them and that they had no choice but to "fall" into a lifeboat.
The defense also asked about Schettino's demeanor when he saw him on shore and whether or not the captain was trying to get back to the ship.
The prosecution also focused on why Schettino decided to sail so close to the island's rocky coastline.
Another witness, ship's maitre d' Antonello Tievoli, a Giglio resident, said he had asked the captain to do the "flyby" a week earlier -- and he acknowledged feeling guilty about having done so.
He testified that Schettino had told him that he was going to do a "close passage to the island" on the day of the crash, and that the captain had invited him on to the bridge so he could see it.
Tievoli messaged his sister on Facebook to tell her the ship would be passing by moments before the accident. He was planning to point out where his house was on Giglio to Schettino and other guests on the bridge.
'It is going to end up in the rocks'
Schettino asked him to call a retired Costa Cruises captain, Mario Palombo, who lived on Giglio to say they'd be passing close by, Tievoli said. Palombo was not on the island that night, but he and Schettino spoke by telephone.
Tievoli told the court that he had done previous "close passages to the island," but none that close.
Schettino had to ask the Costa Cruises company before changing his route and had done so before on a previous voyage, Cemortan said.
Palombo, who took the stand after Cemortan, described Schettino as insincere and always hiding the truth, adding that he did not respect him.
The retired captain said he had been surprised to get a call from Tievoli and then Schettino that evening because it was winter, so there were few people on Giglio to see the "salute," or close passage to the shore. Schettino had asked him on the call about the waters around the island, he said.