Italian investigators are probing whereabouts of young Moldovan woman -- who was reportedly seen dining with Francesco Schettino minutes before ship crashed -- as they believe she has crucial evidence as to what happened when cruise liner sailed by Giglio island

A mystery woman was on the bridge alongside cowardly captain Francesco Schettino the night his doomed ship ran aground off an Italian island.

The blonde Moldovan woman is thought to be around 25-years-old and has not been properly identified by investigators as she does not appear on any official passenger manifest.

Salvage efforts: Italian rescuers resume their search on board the
crashed cruise ship, as salvage workers prepare to pump out fuel from
its tanks to avoid an environmental disaster.

The blonde, identified in reports as Domnica Cemortan, was named as the woman believed to have been alongside Captain Francesco Schettino the night the massive liner hit rocks and ran aground before keeling over on Italy's Tuscan coast.

Captain's defence

Domnica Cemortan leapt to Concordia captain Francesco Schettino's defence saying he did not abandon ship and in fact, helped the lives of 3,000 passengers

Speculation has emerged Schettino may have been trying to impress her when the tragedy began to unfold during a close sail-past of the island of Giglio.

After escaping the wreck, Cemortan leapt to the defence of the captain when interviewed, insisting he saved lives by steering the ship closer to shore.

She said, "Look at how many people are alive because of him. It's a tragedy that people are missing, but he saved over 3,000 people on that ship because of his actions."

She also said she saw him on the bridge at 11.50 pm -- well after he is supposed to have abandoned ship. She added, "He did not abandon ship before everyone else."

Witnesses have claimed the mystery woman appeared to know Schettino and was seen sitting in a reception room next to the bridge. Investigators want to know where Cemortan, who was working as a passenger representative for Costa Cruises, was at exactly the moment Concordia hit the rocks.  There is also the possibility she would have key evidence on what happened in the moments after the fatal 'sail by' which was apparently carried out by Schettino as a 'salute' to a former captain.

Quest for violin cost ship's entertainer his life
A Hungarian musician who worked as an entertainer on the Costa Concordia died in the disaster after apparently delaying his escape to retrieve his violin. Sandor Feher had helped children put on life vests but returned to his cabin to find his instrument, Jozsef Balogh, a fellow musician said. Mr Feher was named as one of the dead.

Captain said grounding 'a blackout'
A new audiotape has emerged of the captain of the stricken cruise ship Costa Concordia insisting that the vessel only had a blackout a full 30 minutes after it had rammed into a reef. The tape is of the first contact between Livorno port officials and Capt Francesco Schettino. The captain, who left the ship before everyone was safely evacuated, is under house arrest, facing possible charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his ship.
Search and rescue operations resume
Divers combed the wreck of an Italian cruise liner for a sixth day Thursday in an increasingly desperate search for survivors, as salvagers worked to prevent an environmental disaster.
Rescuers have so far recovered 11 bodies and 21 more people are missing out of the more than 4,200 from around the world who had been on board the Costa Concordia when it hit rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio