Accessibility links

Italian Divers Resume Search of Wrecked Cruise Ship


Italian divers chat as they prepare to head out to the cruise ship Costa Concordia, as it lays on its side after running aground off the tiny Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy, January 19, 2012.

Italian divers chat as they prepare to head out to the cruise ship Costa Concordia, as it lays on its side after running aground off the tiny Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy, January 19, 2012.

Italian divers resumed their search Thursday for at least 21 people missing from a wrecked cruise ship off Italy's northwestern coast.

Officials say divers began searching again after the operation was suspended Wednesday out of concern the Costa Concordia might move off its rocky resting place into deeper waters.

Anxious relatives are holding on to faint hopes rescue workers will find more survivors after the cruise ship ran aground last week off Italy's Tuscan coast and flipped on its side.

Officials say at least 11 people died in the accident. On Thursday, Italian authorities identified two of the bodies found as French nationals.


Divers say conditions have been difficult and dangerous inside the partially submerged 114,000-ton ship, and Italian officials say additional searches could be affected by changing weather conditions. The weather is also sparking concern about a possible environmental disaster involving a release of the fuel on the ship.

Italian prosecutors have said they want the captain of the Costa Concordia back in jail. Francesco Schettino is under house arrest, facing charges for manslaughter and abandoning ship before all the passengers were rescued.

But prosecutor Francesco Verusio said Wednesday officials wanted to "avoid the situation where Schettino could escape from his responsibilities."

On Wednesday, Schettino's lawyer said the captain "never left the scene." Bruno Leporatti also said contrary to stories in the Italian media, Schettino was "deeply shaken" by the accident.

An audio recording released Tuesday of an angry exchange between the Italian Coast Guard and Schettino reveals that the captain refused orders to get back on his stricken vessel.

Coast Guard Captain Gregory De Falco demanded that Schettino use a ladder to climb back onto the damaged Costa Concordia and report how many people were still on board.

But Schettino responded that he was not going anywhere. He said he was coordinating the rescue from a lifeboat.

Related - Photo Gallery

Owners of the ship say he steered too close to shore and made decisions during the emergency that did not follow company procedures, which they said are based on international standards.

The $450 million Costa Concordia cruise ship was carrying more than 4,200 passengers and crew when it ran aground.

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

XS
SM
MD
LG