Italian media reported today that a mysterious woman was on the bridge with the cowardly captain Francesco Shetino when the cruise ship of the Costa Concordia crashed on the island of Guillo on Friday night.
The blonde woman is a 25-year-old member of the Moldovan crew who has not been properly identified by investigators because she reportedly did not appear in an official manifesto for Costa Concordia.
The woman was identified as a representative of the passengers Domnica Cemortan, probably hired without a proper contract. Reports suggest she may have been on the bridge because Captain Francesco Sketino was trying to impress her.
Prosecutor Francesco Verusio had asked police to try to track down the woman depicted on the doomed Costa Concordia just before she left the port of Civitavecchia in the evening when she got stuck.
Domnica Cemortan quickly emerged as a key witness in the chain of events until the liner hit an underwater reef right next to Giglio Island.
Witnesses said she seemed to know Francesco Shetino.
But a later statement from Costa Cruises confirmed that Domnica Cemortan was an authorized passenger.
The statement said: “Costa Cruises would like to clarify that the current law, safety rules and control systems, carefully implemented by the company, do not allow the boarding of unregistered passengers.
“Based on the photos broadcast by the media, the woman said that she was in the company of Captain Shetino on the evening of January 13, she was certainly uploaded on January 13 in Civitavecchia and duly registered.
“The company is ready to provide the authorities with the identity of the person and the number of the purchased ticket upon request.”
Investigators want to know where Domnika Chemortan was when Costa Concordia hit the rocks.
There is also the possibility that Domnica Cemortan has key evidence of what happened in the moments after the fatal “sailing from”, which was apparently carried out by Francesco Shetino as a “greeting” to a former captain.
Domnica Chemortan from Kisnau, Moldova, is believed to have worked as a passenger representative on the Costa Cruise and gave a brief interview to the media defending Francesco Shetino, adding that his actions helped save the lives of holidaymakers and crew.
Domnica Cemortan also said in an interview on Moldovan television that she had indeed had dinner with the captain, but that she had gone to the bridge after the collision to give instructions to Russian-speaking passengers.
Italian newspapers speculate that she is the blond woman who was seen eating Francesco Shetino around 9pm – just under 30 minutes before the disaster – but it is also possible that she was a guest of another officer on the liner.
Last night, in a strange turn, a male passenger had to be taken off the Costa Concordia’s sister ship Serena after suffering a heart attack while the liner was sailing past Giglio at the beginning of a seven-day cruise.
The search was resumed on the injured ship with divers focused mainly on the stern to the assembly station of four deck restaurants, where it is believed that most of the 21 people still listed are missing.