The captain of a cruise ship that ran aground in January killing 32 people has been released from house arrest, and says a "divine hand" guided him and saved lives the night of the disaster.
As the ship was about to hit rocks off the Italian coast "a divine hand surely touched my head", Francesco Schettino said in a letter to his lawyers that was published by Italian media.
"If I had continued on that path the ship's bow would have hit the rock. It would have been carnage," he said.
Schettino's comments came after Italian judges released him from house arrest but said he must not leave his hometown while his trial continues.
The captain and eight others are under investigation following the tragedy off Giglio Island on January 13, when the Costa Concordia hit rocks and capsized with 4229 people from dozens of countries on board.
The captain is accused of sailing too close to the shore, then delaying the evacuation and abandoning ship before everyone had been rescued as the liner toppled over in icy waters.
In the letter, Schettino repeated claims it was his skilled manoeuvring that stopped the boat hitting the rock head on, limiting the damage caused. He also denied the crash was due to his state of mind.
"There are those who say the impact with the stern was caused because I was suffering from a hallucination. What hallucination! It was rather my instinct, my skills, the ability to know the sea and suddenly change direction," he said.
"The dilemma was whether to evacuate or not. Evacuating over 4000 people from a boat in motion has its risks. To do it would have been almost a liberation for me, but my conscience meant I could not do it light heartedly."
A court hearing is due on July 21 at which the full results of technical analysis of the cruiser's black box and other instruments will be revealed.
The Costa Concordia is lying on its side off Giglio Island in Tuscany.