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Divers Recover 16th Body From Italian Liner


Scuba divers sit in a dinghy next to the Costa Concordia cruise ship which ran aground off the west coast of Italy at Giglio island, January 24, 2012.

Scuba divers sit in a dinghy next to the Costa Concordia cruise ship which ran aground off the west coast of Italy at Giglio island, January 24, 2012.

Divers searching the partially submerged Italian liner Costa Concordia have discovered another body, as salvage crews prepare to offload more than 2,000 metric tons of fuel from the crippled ship.

The discovery Tuesday on the third deck of the massive ocean liner came as explosives experts blasted another hole into the ship's submerged hull to facilitate their search. Sixteen bodies have been recovered and at least 16 people remain missing on the 290-meter cruise ship, which ran aground January 13 off Italy's Tuscan coast.

Meanwhile, Dutch salvage crews have begun attaching pumping equipment to the shipwreck, as preparations continue to empty the vessel's fuel tanks. Authorities say salvage preparations will last several days and say the pumping itself will not start before Saturday. Pumping and recovery operations are expected to continue in tandem.

The ship's captain Francesco Schettino remains under house arrest, accused of manslaughter and abandoning ship before all of the vessel's 4,200 passengers and crew could reach safety.

Italian media quote Schettino as saying he sailed his ship too close to the wreck site near Giglio island in a "salute" that was "arranged and wanted" by Costa Cruises executives for publicity reasons. Ship owners have not commented on the allegations.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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