A woman claiming to be the lover of Captain Francesco Schettino has told the court in his manslaughter case that she was on the bridge with him when the Concordia ran aground last January.

The tragedy resulted in the deaths of 32 people when the ship veered too close to the coast of the island of Giglio and a large hole was ripped in the hull.

Subsequently, the ship partially sank and reports suggest that a series of errors were made in the immediate aftermath of the accident and in the way that the evacuation was handled.

Schettino is currently on trial for manslaughter and abandoning ship, with his first mate already testifying that it was immediately clear the ship would need to be evacuated, even though the captain took no such action for approximately one hour following the collision.

Now, further damning evidence has come to light, with Moldovan dancer Dominica Cemortan testifying that she was in a romantic relationship with the captain and was present on the bridge when the Concordia ran aground.

She claims that she was invited to join the captain as he oversaw a close sail-past the island that ultimately resulted in tragedy, and media outlets in Italy have been quick to suggest that Captain Schettino may have been distracted by her presence or, worse, even showing off in order to impress her.

Ms Cemortan added while on the stand that she had joined the ship hours before the collision without paying for a ticket, stating: "When you are someone's lover, no-one asks you for a ticket." However, she then dismissed the comment, claiming it was a joke to her translator.

She told the court that once the evacuation started, the captain told her to "save herself", and that she helped other passengers into lifeboats before evacuating herself. The case is on-going.