The captain of Costa Concordia delayed sounding the alarm on the sinking vessel because he feared people would jump off, a court heard.

Speaking on the second day of testimony, Francesco Schettino said that he was “afraid of panic” in the moments when the ship began to sink, the BBC reported.

Schettino is charged with manslaughter and dereliction of duty.

Costa Concordia capsized off Italy’s coast in January 2012, killing 32 people.

The disaster occurred after the vessel deviated from its planned course, veering close to rocks off the Italian island of Giglio.

Prosecutors argue that this deviation, and Schettino’s handling of the sinking as it happened, caused the deaths of people on board.

Schettino has argued that his decisions on board saved lives.

On the first day of his testimony, he said that he deviated from the original route for a number of reasons, denying rumours that he had intended to impress a woman on board at the helm.

“I wanted to kill three birds with one stone,” Mr Schettino said.

He said he wanted to please the passengers with a dramatic view of the island, salute a retired captain who lived there, and do a favour for the vessel’s head waiter, who was from Giglio.

Schettino could face 20 years in prison if convicted.