ROME, Jan. 15, 2012— -- The bodies of two passengers found wearing life jackets aboard the capsized Costa Concordia cruise ship today have been identified, officials said. Both passengers were elderly men -- one Italian, the other Spanish.
The bodies were found earlier today near a gathering point in the submerged part of the luxury liner, bringing the death toll in the disaster to five people.
The Costa Concordia was carrying 4,234 passengers and crew when it hit the rocks Friday evening near Giglio, a small island off the coast of Tuscany. Investigators say the ship was an "incredibly close" 150 meters (roughly 500 feet) from the shore.
"While the investigation is ongoing, preliminary indications are that there may have been significant human error on the part of the ship's master, Captain Francesco Schettino, which resulted in these grave consequences," Costa Cruises said in a statement. "The route of the vessel appears to have been too close to the shore, and in handling the emergency the captain appears not to have followed standard Costa procedures."
Experts are still analyzing the ship's black box, which has already revealed a one-hour lag between the time of the impact on the rocks at 9:45 p.m. local time Friday and the ship's alarm call to the coast guard at about 10:43 p.m. Investigators suspect Schettino tried to maneuver the ship before alerting coast guard, the Italian news outlet Ansa reported.
Schettino is in custody, facing possible charges of manslaughter and abandoning his ship. Schettino reportedly left the stricken vessel at approximately 12:30 a.m., while many passengers didn't get safely off the ship until 6 a.m., Ansa reported.
Before the latest bodies were found today, 17 people remained unaccounted for -- 11 passengers and six crew members, Tuscany's regional president, Enrico Rossi, told reporters. The number was reduced from an earlier estimate of 40 unaccounted for.
The U.S. embassy in Rome estimates 120 Americans were on board the ship, of which 118 have been accounted for.
The ship is currently lying at a 90 degree angle on a raised ledge in the sea floor. But experts say bad weather and rough seas could cause the ship to slide deeper, complicating further search and rescue efforts. Three units of 16 divers are working in shifts to search the badly damaged vessel. Port authorities have told Costa Cruises they want the ship made safe and removed to ward off an ecological disaster.
"Our immediate priority is to account for all passengers and crew, and to secure the vessel to ensure that there are no environmental impacts," Costa Cruises said in a statement. "We have engaged the services of a top specialized salvage company to develop an action plan and help establish a protection perimeter around the ship."
The incident began with a loud bang followed by a blackout just as passengers were having dinner. Minutes later, an announcement from the crew said it was merely an electrical problem. But with the ship tilting, many passengers ignored their orders and scrambled to the deck.
Vacationers reported the crew did not want to lower the lifeboats. Many reported forcing their way on against orders. Some were lowered, but not everyone got on.
By 11 p.m., the ship was tilting too much to its side and many lifeboats couldn't be lowered. Many of the ship's occupants jumped in to the icy waters to make a swim for it, and at least 50 people had to be airlifted by helicopter.
Cruise Ship Sinks Amid Screams, Darkness and Frantic Pushing
Mark and Sarah Plath of Little Rock, Ark., awoke to an announcement just before 11 p.m. saying there was a power outage but not to worry about it. Using their iPhone's level app, the couple soon discovered the ship was tilting 23 degrees. When they went outside, they found about 500 people on the fourth floor deck.
"We were trying to get outside," Mark Plath told ABC News. "People had children with them, people were pushing, people were yelling, people were pushing back. It was difficult to stay in control because so many people were upset."
"We were moving really fast and so Mark said, 'We've got to jump,'" Sarah Plath said. The couple jumped and swam to nearby rocks.
Lynn Kaelin of Seattle told ABC News the ship's hallways were so crowded "We couldn't see where we were going. People were crying and screaming. No one was telling us what to do, at all."
Karen Kois, also of Seattle, said she knew to get warm clothing, although others were barefoot and lightly dressed.
"I had a sweater on under a raincoat. I gave it to a baby who had nothing," she said.
As for the pushing and shoving, Kois said, the crew "told us go one way, then the other. We didn't know what to do. They were just standing looking at us."
When they succeeded in reaching a life boat, it took 45 minutes to launch it, with the ropes tangled and the little crafts tilted.
"And it's pitched black," Kois added.
Above them was the clatter of helicopters trying to pluck people from the decks.
"Have you seen 'Titanic?' That's exactly what it was," said Valerie Ananias, 31, a schoolteacher from Los Angeles. She and sister and parents all had dark red bruises on their knees from crawling along nearly vertical hallways and stairwells to reach rescue boats.
"We were crawling up a hallway, in the dark, with only the light from the life vest strobe flashing," her mother, Georgia Ananias, 61 said. "We could hear plates and dishes crashing, people slamming against walls."
She said an Argentine couple handed her their 3-year-old daughter, unable to keep their balance as the ship lurched to the side and the family found themselves standing on a wall.
"He said 'take my baby,'" Georgia Ananias said, covering her mouth with her hand as she teared up. "I grabbed the baby. But then I was being pushed down. I didn't want the baby to fall down the stairs. I gave the baby back. I couldn't hold her."
Cruise Ship Crew Is Criticized
Giuseppe Romano, a 57-year-old Carabinieri on the cruise, said, "We lived apocalyptic scenes. There was a strident sound followed by a bang and plates and glasses started flying in the restaurant."
"After the first bang, the crew members said there was a fault and that we should stay calm... Then we heard another bang and I think that the ship hit the rocks again. Then the lights went out," Romano said.
"An officer on the ship asked me to help the people. Immediately afterwards I with other men started taking people off the ship. During this whole apocalyptic scene we saw few crew members," he said.
Mike van Dijk, a 54-year-old from Pretoria, South Africa, said crew members delayed lowering the lifeboats even though the ship was listing badly.
"We had to scream at the controllers to release the boats from the side," van Dijk said. "We were standing in the corridors and they weren't allowing us to get onto the boats. It was a scramble, an absolute scramble."
The ship's owner was as mystified by the crash as the passengers.
"At the time of the collision with the rock the captain of the Costa Concordia was on the command bridge," said the Director General of Costa Crociera Gianni Onorato speaking to journalists at the port of Porto Santo Stefano.
Onorato said the liner was on its regular, weekly route when it struck a reef.
"The ship was doing what it does 52 times a year, going along the route between Civitavecchia and Savona," Onorato said.
ABC News' Michael S. James, Mark Mooney and Katie Moisse, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.