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Italy Ends Underwater Search for Cruise Ship Bodies

An Italian firefighter is lowered from a helicopter onto the grounded cruise ship Costa Concordia off the Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy, January 31, 2012.

Italian divers have ended the underwater search for 15 people still missing from the Costa Concordia shipwreck off the Tuscan coast.

The civil protection authority said Tuesday it was calling off the search in the submerged part of the ship due to danger to rescue workers.

A statement from the agency says officials have contacted the families of the missing and foreign embassies involved to explain the decision. It says the search will continue in other parts of the ship that are above water.

A total of 17 bodies have been recovered since the Costa Concordia ran aground off the island of Giglio on January 13.

The ship, which was carrying 4,200 passengers and crew, capsized when the captain deviated from his planned route and struck a reef, creating a huge gash in the ship.

Captain Francesco Schettion remains under house arrest, accused of manslaughter and abandoning the vessel.

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