GIGLIO ISLAND: The captain of the doomed Italian cruise liner denied Tuesday he had abandoned ship, as rescue divers found another five bodies in the wreckage, bringing the death toll to 11.

A dramatic port authority recording of a telephone exchange as the disaster unfolded showed that captain Francesco Schettino ignored an order to return to the vessel after it hit rocks and pitched onto its side on Friday.

Schettino, 52, is accused of manslaughter and abandoning ship before all the passengers were rescued.

But under lengthy questioning Tuesday by Italian prosecutors, Schettino denied he had left the Costa Concordia and said his actions as the boat was going down near the Tuscan island of Giglio had saved many lives.

"The captain defended his role on the direction of the ship after the collision, which in the captain's opinion saved hundreds if not thousands of lives," his lawyer Bruno Leporatti said. "The captain specified that he did not abandon ship."

The Corriere della Sera daily said Schettino told prosecutors that he was at the helm when disaster struck, but later fell into the sea and could not get back on board the tilting vessel.

Leporatti backed the claim, telling journalists: "The ship in that moment was tilted over by 90 degrees."

He also said the captain "carried out a brilliant manoeuvre" after the collision, and had "kept his wits about him", managing to steer the vessel towards the shore and "save a number of lives".

But according to investigators, the flooded engine rooms would have made it impossible for Schettino to navigate the 114,500-tonne ship, which drifted closer to a tiny port on Giglio before capsizing.

The grilling of Schettino came as another five bodies were discovered after the Italian navy used explosives to blow seven holes in the upturned hull of the Costa Concordia, bringing the death toll to 11.

About two dozen people are still missing.

"The five victims are a woman and four men, who could be passengers but we are not sure, they are between 50 and 60 years old," said coastguard spokesman Filippo Marini. He said the victims were wearing life jackets.

Earlier, officials had said that 12 Germans, six Italians, four French, two Americans, one Hungarian, one Indian and one Peruvian were still unaccounted for. There were also reports of a missing five-year-old Italian girl.

The dead identified so far include two French passengers, an Italian and a Spaniard and one Peruvian crew member.

Meanwhile it emerged Tuesday that one of the survivors was the granddaughter of a survivor of the Titanic disaster in 1912 when the passenger liner sank on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.

"It was like re-living history, it was horrible, I was really shocked," Valentina Capuano, 30, told the Italian daily La Repubblica.

About 4,200 people were on board when the ship went down shortly after it had left a port near Rome at the start of a seven-day Mediterranean cruise, and survivors have spoken of scenes of confusion and panic on board.