January 22, 2012

Costa Concordia disaster: Eight dead identified

Eight of the 12 people known to have died when the Costa Concordia cruise ship was wrecked last week have been identified, Italian officials say.
Four of the victims were French, one was Italian, one Hungarian, one Spanish and one German, they added.
Rescuers have resumed their search of parts of the ship above water, but choppy seas have prevented diving.
At least 20 people are still missing. Officials say some people may have been on board without registering.
The latest discovery was the body of a woman found on Saturday by divers on the fourth deck.
The head of the Civil Protection Agency, Franco Gabrielli, said the woman had not been identified but may be a Hungarian who was not on the embarkation list.
There could have been more "illegals" on board, he said, referring to people who had not registered to be on the ship.
There were known to be 4,200 people on the cruise ship, which struck a rock in shallow waters on 13 January off Tuscany's Giglio island.
The captain, Francesco Schettino, is being investigated for manslaughter, which he denies, and is under house arrest.
He is accused of multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck, and abandoning ship before all passengers were evacuated.
Prosecutors say the 57-year-old was sailing too close to Giglio on an unauthorised course in order to perform a "salute" - a greeting to islanders.
However, the Italian media have released a new recording in which Capt Schettino appears to say he will be the last to leave the ship.
Time pressures
Coastguard and navy divers resumed their search on Saturday, blasting their way into submerged areas of the vessel using explosives in an effort to find those unaccounted for.
Rescue officials said on Saturday they would not end the search until the whole ship had been examined, but it was suspended as weather conditions worsened.
On Sunday, civil protection officials said divers would not be allowed into the submerged part of the vessel until the sea was calmer. Rescuers continued their work above the water line.
Correspondents say they are under time pressure, amid fears the ship could slip off a ledge into deeper water with a risk of fuel tanks being ruptured.
One official says swift action needs to be taken to remove the fuel that is on board. An Italian naval vessel is on standby as a precaution should there be an oil leak.

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