“The commander left before and was on the dock before everyone was off,” said Ms. Gondelle, 28, a French military officer.
“Normally the commander should leave at the end,” said Mr. Du Pays, a police officer who said he helped an injured passenger to a rescue boat. “I did what I could.”
Capt. Schettino has said that the ship hit rocks that weren’t marked on his nautical charts and that he did all he could to save lives.
“We were navigating approximately 300 meters from the rocks,” he told Mediaset television. “There shouldn’t have been such a rock.”
He insisted he didn’t leave the liner before all passengers were off, saying, “We were the last ones to leave the ship.”
But that clearly wasn’t the case, as the finding of the three survivors aboard Saturday night and Sunday showed.
Capt. Filippo Marini, a coast guard spokesman, told Sky Italia TV that coast guard divers have recovered the so-called “black box” with the recording of the navigational details from a compartment now underwater.
A Dutch firm has been called in to help extract the fuel from the Concordia’s tanks before any leaks into the area’s pristine waters. No leaks have been reported so far.
While ship owner Costa has insisted the boat was following the same route it takes every week between the Italian ports of Civitavecchia and Savona, residents on the island of Giglio said they had never seen the Costa come so close to the Le Scole reefs and rocks that jut from Giglio’s eastern side.
“This was too close, too close,” said Italo Arienti, a 54-year-old sailor who has worked on the Maregigilo ferry service that runs between the island and the mainland for more than a decade. A now-retired Costa commander occasionally used to do “fly-bys” on the route, nearing a bit and sounding the siren in a special salute for his hometown, he said. Such a fly-by was staged last August, but there was no incident, he said.
He said the cruise ship always stayed more than five to six nautical miles offshore, well beyond the reach of the Le Scole reefs, which are popular with scuba divers.
The terrifying escape from the luxury liner, which was on a weeklong Mediterranean cruise, was straight out of a scene from “Titanic.” Many passengers complained the crew didn’t give them good directions on how to evacuate and, once the emergency became clear, delayed lowering the lifeboats until the ship was listing too heavily for many to be released.
Several other passengers said crew members told passengers for 45 minutes that there was a simple “technical problem” that had caused the lights to go off.
Amateur footage taken aboard the ship showed the situation immediately after it ran aground, as an announcement in various languages tells passengers the liner is having electrical problems and “the situation is under control.” When a man asks a crew member in Spanish why he is wearing a life vest, the crew member doesn’t answer and continues on his way.
Other video shows people crowded together in life jackets, apparently calm and waiting to disembark the ship. A third video, taken from a lifeboat, shows mostly darkness as people shout and scream in panic.