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Cruise company CEO: Captain misled crew, us

Updated at 4:30 p.m. ET

ROME - The chief executive of the company that owns the Costa Concordia cruise ship says the captain who grounded it off the coast of Tuscany did not relay correct information to the company or the crew after the vessel hit rocks.

CEO Pierluigi Foschi told Italian state TV Friday his company spoke to the captain at 10:05 p.m., some 20 minutes after the ship was grounded but could not offer proper assistance because the captain's description "did not correspond to the truth."

Capt. Francesco Schettino only said he had "problems" aboard but did not mention hitting rocks.

Foschi said crew members were not informed of the gravity of the situation either.

The Costa Concordia was carrying more than 4,200 passengers and crew when it crashed and partially sank a week ago. Eleven people have been confirmed dead and 21 are missing.

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Schettino is under house arrest, facing possible charges of manslaughter, abandoning ship and causing a shipwreck after he made an unauthorized detour from the programmed route that caused the vessel to slam into a reef and capsize off the Tuscan island of Giglio.

Foschi's comments come a day after a young Moldovan woman who says she was called to the bridge of the stricken ship to help evacuate Russian passengers defended Schettino on Thursday, saying he worked tirelessly and "saved over 3,000 lives."

Domnica Cemortan, who says she was translating Schettino's orders during the frenzied evacuation, emerged as a potential new witness in the investigation into the officer's actions the night the ship ran aground.

Also Thursday, new audiotape of the doomed vessel's first communications with maritime authorities showed the ship's officers continued to report only an electrical problem for more than 30 minutes after hitting the reef. And an Italian television station made public amateur video showing a staffer of the cruise ship urging a hallway full of passengers in life jackets to return to their rooms.

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Attention has focused on Cemortan amid reports by crew and passengers that Schettino was seen eating dinner with a Russian-speaking woman at the time of the impact. The 25-year-old Cemortan speaks Russian and had worked as a hostess for the Italian cruise operator, although her contract had expired and she was vacationing with friends when she boarded the luxury liner hours before the Jan. 13 disaster.

"I saw him at the restaurant. He was with a blonde woman. He did not look drunk. They were just eating," a Filipino cocktail waitress, Gladly Balderama, said of Schettino.

Another Filipino crew member, Roger Barsita, said he served Schettino and a woman dinner.

"I have no idea who she is," he told The Associated Press in Manila. "Some of the waiters said she's Russian."

In interviews with Moldovan media, Cemortan said she was dining with "colleagues, so to speak" in the ship's restaurant when the ship struck the reef. She said she was summoned to the bridge to translate instructions for passengers, particularly Russians, since she speaks several languages. Moldova is a former Soviet republic.

"All our colleagues made announcements in different languages because there was a problem with the electricity. It was very dark on the ship," she told the Moldovan daily Adevarul. "I stayed on the bridge in case the captain needed me to make an announcement. There were about 20 more officers, cruise directors and the captain."

She defended Schettino and crew members against criticism of a chaotic evacuation, saying they saved thousands of lives.

"He did a great thing. He saved over 3,000 lives," she told Moldova's Jurnal TV.

Prosecutor Francesco Verusio declined to comment on Italian media reports that Cemortan was being sought as a witness, citing the ongoing investigation.

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