Costa Concordia rescue divers forced to stop search

20 Jan

The Costa Concordia lies grounded on rocks off the coast of Italy.

Rescue divers have again been forced to abandon their search for passengers on board the grounded Costa Concordia after the vessel shifted on rocks overnight, prompting fears about its stability.

With hopes fading of finding any more passengers alive on board the ship, which collided with rocks off the island of Giglio a week ago, the ship has shifted three times, disrupting the search operation that has so far retrieved eight bodies from the ship, five of which have been identified.

Eleven passengers are known to have died after the vessel listed into shallow water after it grounded, and 21 remain unaccounted for. The vessel’s captain is under house arrest, accused of manslaughter, shipwreck and abandoning ship.

“We will wait until we have the go-ahead to go back in,” said Luca Cari, a spokesman for Italian fire service divers. “Rough seas which would stop us diving were forecast but it seems to be holding off.”

Cari said the movement of the ship was probably due to it settling on the rocks where it was lodged, close to the island’s tiny port, rather than due to sea currents.

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A vessel that will be used for pumping fuel off the ship is meanwhile docked in the port, awaiting the end of the search operation.

“We will hold a briefing this morning to discuss limits on the time that divers will continue to search the vessel,” said coastguard spokesman Cosimo Nicastro on Friday.

As questions continued to be raised about the responsibilities of the cruise ship company, Costa Crociere, for the collision and bungled evacuation, the firm’s parent, Carnival Corp, said it would launch a review of safety and emergency procedures with nine other cruise lines.

The Italian government cabinet was expected to discuss a decree on Friday ordering cruise ships to sail further out to sea from the Italian coastline.

A video taken on board after the ship collided with rocks, which was shown on Italian TV, shows a female member of the crew telling passengers wearing lifejackets: “On behalf of the captain, kindly go back to your cabins,” adding: “We have solved the problem, which was an electrical problem … All is under control.”

Transcripts were released on Thursday of rescuers on board helicopters speaking over their radio as they first spotted the Costa Concordia on Friday.

“Where is it?” says one. “Right there!” says another. “Bloody hell, it has sunk!”

“Yes, it really has sunk!”

“When will they ever retrieve this?”

“Never!”

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jan/20/costa-concordia-divers-stop-searc…

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