Cruise disaster grows as missings double

Cruise disaster grows as missings double

Cruise disaster grows as missings double

This graphic, provided by the shipping newspaper Lloyds List and Microsoft and taken from BBC website, shows the previous and recent route of the cruise.

Rescue squads used controlled explosions yesterday to enter a stricken Italian cruise liner in the increasingly despairing hunt for survivors as authorities almost doubled their estimate of the number missing to 29 people, showing how much uncertainty still surrounded the disaster. 

The coast guard said six bodies had been found so far, denying a report in an Italian newspaper that a seventh body had been identified. Those unaccounted for include 14 Germans, six Italians, four French, two Americans, one Hungarian, one Indian and one Peruvian, the coast guard said. “We are continuing the search operation,” Filippo Marini, a spokesman for the coast guard, four days after the Mediterranean tragedy. “The ship at the moment is stable and we are being helped by the weather,” he said, a day after rescuers had to be evacuated due to choppy seas.

As fears rose of an environmental disaster if the ship’s tanks filled with 2,380 tons of fuel rupture and leak, Marini said emergency crews had laid down absorbent booms after noticing “an iridescence” in the water.

The Costa Concordia late on Jan. 13 came to grief off the picturesque island of Giglio in Tuscany -- a marine sanctuary and popular holiday spot. Rodolfo Raiteri, head of the coastguard service’s diving team told Agence France-Presse: “The conditions inside are disastrous. It’s very difficult. The corridors are cluttered and it’s hard for the divers to swim through.”

The two explosions were carried out early yesterday morning to allow firefighters and scuba divers to enter parts of the ship that they had not yet been able to search. A senior firefighter, Luciano Roncalli, told Reuters that all the unsubmerged areas of the liner had been searched, indicating there was faint hope of finding more survivors in the flooded and upturned maze of luxurious state rooms and tennis courts, bars and spas now submerged beneath the sea. 

'Salute' to shore

Investigators say the ship was much too close to the shore and its owners, Costa Cruises, said the captain had carried out the rash maneuver to “make a bow” to people on Giglio island, who included a retired Italian admiral. Schettino denies charges of manslaughter. His lawyer issued a statement saying the skipper was “broken up, troubled and saddened by the loss of life”. But he believed he had saved many lives by carrying out a difficult emergency maneuver with anchors after the accident, which turned the ship closer to the shore. Costa Cruises chief executive Pier Luigi Foschi said company vessels were forbidden to come closer than 500 meters to the Giglio coast. Investigators say the liner, designed as a floating pleasure palace for over 3,000 customers, was about 150 meters offshore when it hit the rocks that tore a long gouge in its thousand-foot hull. Schettino denies being too close to the coast and says the rock he hit was not marked on charts.

Italy, cruise ship, liner disaster, sinking,