ROME—A Costa Concordia official has testified that the cruise ship's captain was distracted and talking on the telephone when the liner approached a Tuscan island shortly before it crashed.

Ciro Ambrosio, who was the first officer when the ship crashed on Jan. 13, 2012, told a court in Tuscany Tuesday he had to communicate with hand gestures with Captain Francesco Schettino because the commander was chatting on the phone. Ambrosio said he was off duty but took the helm and gave orders to the helmsman because Schettino was "distracted."

Prosecutors say the Concordia struck a reef because it sailed too close to Giglio island. The crash killed 32 people.

Schettino, accused of manslaughter, causing the shipwreck and abandoning ship, contends the reef wasn't on the Concordia's nautical maps.


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