The Italian coast guard pleaded in vain for the captain of the capsized Italian cruise ship to return on board to oversee the evacuation but he refused, according to what a leading Italian newspaper said was a recording of the conversation.
Corriere della Sera put the tape, which it said was recorded by the coast guard, on its website.
It conforms with reports that have leaked out in the past few days since the Costa Concordia hit a rock on Friday night. Six people were killed and 29 are still missing.
Captain Francesco Schettino is in jail, accused of multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship.
The recording says in part:
Coast guard to captain (who has already left the ship):
"There are people who are coming down the ladder on the bow. Go back in the opposite direction, get back on the ship, and tell me how many people there are and what they have on board.
"Tell me if there are children, women and what type of help they need. And you tell me the number of each of these categories. Is that clear?!
"Listen Schettino, perhaps you have saved yourself from the sea but I will make you look very bad. I will make you pay for this. Dammit, go back on board!"
Captain to Coast Guard: "Please ...."
Coast Guard to captain: "There is no please about it. Go back on board. Assure me you are going back on board!"