Italian authorities are reported to be searching for the helmsman who was steering Costa Concordia on the night it hit rocks after he failed to turn up for the trial of Captain Francesco Schettino.

Jacob Rusli Bin, from Indonesia, was supposed to have given evidence to the court in the Tuscan town of Grosseto yesterday but did not appear and could not be traced.

His evidence is vital for Schettino, who accuses the helmsman of misunderstanding his orders in the moments before the ship rammed into rocks off Giglio on the night of January 13, 2012, The Telegraph reported.

The collision prompted a chaotic evacuation for the ship’s 4,200 passengers and crew in which 32 people lost their lives.

Prosecutors in the trial are now searching for the former helmsman and have contacted Interpol and the Italian embassy in Jakarta, amid reports that he may be living in a village in the countryside outside the city.

He negotiated a plea bargain last July in which he received a suspended sentence of 20 months after admitting charges of manslaughter, negligence and causing a shipwreck.

The prosecution wants Rusli Bin to turn up for the next hearing in the trial, scheduled for April 14.

“A man can’t just disappear like that,” Schettino, who is on trial for abandoning ship and multiple counts of manslaughter, told reporters.

“He must have an identity, a credit card, he must be somewhere. He can help establish the truth of what happened.”