Body of woman found on cruise ship wreck

Discovery raises to 13 the number of people certified dead in the Costa Concordia accident.

he Costa Concordia cruise ship is seen after it ran aground off the west coast of Italy at Giglio island January 15, 2012

Divers have found a woman’s body in the wreck of the the Costa Concordia, raising the death toll in the cruise liner accident to 13.

“Divers from the fire services found the body of a woman at bridge seven on the stern of the ship, in the area underwater. She is wearing a life-jacket,” Francesca Maffini, spokeswoman for Italy’s civil protection agency said on Sunday.

Earlier, the chief of Italy’s rescue services said eight of those so far certified dead have been identified.

Franco Gabrielli, the chief of the civil protection services, said that while 24 people were left unaccounted for, the number could yet vary.

“The eight identified are four French nationals, one Italian, one Hungarian, one German and one Spanish national,” said Gabrielli. Of the eight identified, seven were men and one was a woman, according to Carabinieri police officer Rocco Carpenteri.

The four as yet unidentified bodies are of three men and one woman, said Gabrielli at a news conference on Giglio island.

Citing a Hungarian woman, whose name did not appear on the list of passengers aboard the ship but who allegedly phoned her relatives from aboard the ship, Gabrielli said it was difficult to give an exact number of people still missing. If the woman’s presence is confirmed, the number of missing would rise from the previously thought 24 to 25 people. The example of the un-named Hungarian woman was used to illustrate the “possibility” that people boarded the cruise ship without following proper registration procedures.

Gabrielli also referred to growing concerns over the thousands of tonnes of potentially hazardous fuels in the Concordia‘s tanks, saying that scientific tests carried out so far had shown “no significant ecological contamination.” He said the situation was currently being monitored on a daily basis.

Above-water search resumes

Sunday’s announcements came as divers resumed searching the above-water section of the ship, but choppy waters kept rescuers from exploring the submerged part.

The rescue teams had abandoned their search earlier on Sunday after instruments monitoring movement of the ship indicated that the vessel, half-submerged and keeled over after hitting rocks, had shifted slightly off the island of Giglio.

The underwater exploration had been halted for the same reason on Friday. But when it resumed a day later, divers found the body of a woman wearing a life vest in a narrow underwater corridor of the capsized ship, raising the death toll to 12.

Coast Guard Commander Cosimo Nicastro said the victim was found on Saturday during a particularly risky inspection of an evacuation staging point at the ship’s rear.

“The corridor was very narrow, and the divers’ lines risked snagging [on objects in the passageway],” he said.

The Costa Concordia accident explained [Al Jazeera

Captain detained

The Costa Concordia ran aground on January 14, while passengers dined, about two hours after the ship had set sail from the port of Civitavecchia on the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Francesco Schettino, the Italian captain of the ship, is under house arrest for investigation of alleged manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the ship before all passengers and crew were evacuated.

Schettino insists he helped co-ordinate the evacuation from Giglio’s docks after leaving the ship when the Concordia lurched to one side.

Pierluigi Foschi, director of the company that owns the $450m ship, told Italian state television on Friday that the company spoke to the captain about 20 minutes after the Costa Concordia struck the reef.

He said Schettino’s description of events at that time “did not correspond to the truth”.

Schettino did not say he had hit a reef and did not tell crew members “the gravity of the situation”, Foschi said.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies