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A retired couple from White Bear Lake were among those still missing in the cruise ship disaster in Italy, relatives and friends said on Sunday, as responsibility for the vessel's grounding zeroed in on the captain.

By Sunday night, Gerald and Barbara Heil were the only Americans still unaccounted for from the Costa Concordia cruise ship, which was carrying 4,200 people, including 120 Americans, when it hit rocks on Friday night near the island of Giglio off the Italian coast and ended resting on its side.

"St. Christopher, pray for us," Sarah Kim Heil of Hastings, the daughter of Gerald Heil, 69, and Barbara Heil, 70, posted on her Facebook page.

The Heils were among 15 people still missing Sunday night as rescue workers extracted three survivors and two more bodies from the ship. So far, five people have been confirmed dead.

The bodies recovered Sunday -- those of two elderly men, one Spanish, one Italian -- were discovered in life vests at an emergency gathering point near a restaurant.

The captain of the Costa Cruises liner, Francesco Schettino, 52, of Naples, Italy, was detained for questioning by the Italian police on charges of manslaughter, failure to offer assistance and abandonment of the ship.

On Sunday, Costa Cruises, a subsidiary of Carnival Cruise lines, issued a statement saying "there may have been significant human error" by Schettino that caused the ship to ground on a rocky outcropping near the resort island.

"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," the statement said.

A prosecutor confirmed on Sunday that the authorities were investigating allegations Schettino abandoned the stricken liner before all the passengers had escaped.

According to the Italian navigation code, a captain who abandons a ship in danger can face up to 12 years in prison.

A French couple who boarded the Costa Concordia in Marseille, Ophelie Gondelle and David Du Pays, said they saw the captain in a lifeboat, covered by a blanket, well before all the passengers were off the ship.

"The commander left before and was on the dock before everyone was off," said Gondelle, 28, a French military officer.

Coast Guard officers later spotted Schettino on land as the evacuation unfolded. The officers urged him to return to his ship and honor his duty to stay aboard until everyone was safely off the vessel, but he ignored them, Coast Guard Cmdr. Francesco Paolillo said.

Schettino insisted he didn't leave the liner early, telling Mediaset television that he had done everything he could to save lives. "We were the last ones to leave the ship," he said.

Two nights in darkness

Meanwhile, rescue work continued into the night on the half of the Concordia that remained above water, said firefighter spokesman Luca Cari. Sniffer dogs were being brought in, although it was unclear if they could adapt to working in an environment where the horizontal became the vertical, due to the 90-degree list of the ship.

Coast Guard officials held out hope there could still be survivors, perhaps holed up in the section still above water, or that some of the unaccounted passengers simply didn't report their safe arrival on land.

Earlier Sunday, a helicopter airlifted a crew member from the capsized ship just hours after South Korean honeymooners were rescued from their cabin when firefighters heard their screams.

A relative of the rescued crewman told reporters he had survived two nights in darkness and with his feet in water.

Besides the two dead discovered on Sunday, the bodies of three other victims -- two French passengers and a Peruvian crewman -- were pulled out of the sea in the hours after the accident.

Survivors described a terrifying escape that was straight out of a scene from "Titanic." Many complained the crew didn't give them good directions on how to evacuate and once the emergency became clear, delayed lowering the lifeboats until the ship was listing too heavily for all to be released.

"We were left to ourselves," pregnant French passenger Isabelle Mougin, who injured her ankle in the scramble, told the ANSA news agency.

Another French passenger, Jeanne Marie de Champs, said that faced with the chaotic scene at the lifeboats, she decided to take her chances swimming to shore.

"I was afraid I wouldn't make the shore, but then I saw we were close enough, I felt calmer," she told Sky News 24.

Staff writer Heron Marquez Estrada, the Associated Press and the New York Times contributed to this report.