January 17, 2012

Fears grow for Concordia missing

Rescue crews have blasted holes in a stricken cruise ship in order to gain easier access as hopes fade of finding survivors among the 29 people missing.
Six people are known to have died after the Costa Concordia crashed into rocks off Italy's west coast on Friday night.
The ship's owners have blamed the captain for Friday's crash, saying he changed course towards an island.
Capt Francesco Schettino has been detained on suspicion of manslaughter and is due to appear shortly in court.
Capt Schettino, 52, has also been accused of abandoning his vessel before all the passengers had been evacuated.
He is to answer questions from a magistrate who will decide if he is to remain in custody.
Italy says it will declare a state of emergency over the incident, and provide funding to help avert any environmental disaster.

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The Italian environment minister said liquid was leaking from the ship, but it was unclear if it was fuel.
Meanwhile, Italian officials have denied a newspaper report that a seventh body had been found overnight on the vessel.
Captain 'in difficult position'
Shortly after daybreak on Tuesday rescue crews blasted several holes in the ship, now lying on its side metres from Giglio island, off the Tuscan coast, in order to gain access to areas they have not been able to search.
Italian coast guard officials said the number of people believed to be missing had jumped to 29 from the previous estimate of 16, but gave no reason for the change.
The missing are thought to include four crew members, as well as passengers from the US, Germany, France and Italy.
On Monday, the Costa Concordia's owners, Costa Cruises, said Capt Schettino hit the rocks because he deliberately steered the ship towards to Giglio Island.
Prosecutors also claim that he was responsible for the disaster. They say the captain wanted to make a close pass of Giglio in order to "salute" a crew member's family who live there.
"The captain is in a very difficult position because we are sure enough that he abandoned the ship when many passengers were still waiting to be evacuated," said prosecutor Francesco Verusio.
A transcript purportedly of conversations between the captain and the coastguard has emerged in the Italian media - apparently drawn from one of the ship's black box recorders - which appears to corroborate the claims that the captain left the ship before all the passengers escaped.
Capt Schettino has denied wrongdoing and says the rocks were not on his charts. He has insisted that he and his crew were the last people to leave the vessel.
His lawyer, Bruno Leporatti, said his client was "overcome and wants to express his greatest condolences to the victims", adding that the captain had carried out a dangerous manoeuvre that had actually saved lives.
Conditions 'disastrous'
The ship, carrying 4,200 passengers and crew, had its hull ripped through when it hit rocks late on Friday.

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