The death toll of the Italian Titanic-like sea tragedy rose to 13 as divers discovered the body of a woman wearing a lifevest and found on the ship’s seventh deck, 10 meters below the water line.
So far, eight of the 13 recovered bodies were identified, Italian officials said. At least 20 people are still missing from the luxury cruiser that sank on 13 January after hitting rocks near the Italian island of Giglio with some 4,200 people onboard.
The woman, who is yet to be identified, may be a Hungarian who was reported missing but was not on the ship’s guest list, Franco Gabrielli from the Civil Protection Agency told the media, adding more unregistered passengers may have been on the cruiser.
Poor weather and a risk that the ship could slip into deeper water are making the search for missing difficult. Nevertheless, emergency officials said they would not end the operation until the whole ship had been examined.
Meanwhile, there is a fear that in case of Costa Concordia’s fuel tanks’ rupture an oil spill of almost 500,000 million gallons will cause another, ecological, catastrophe. Italian officials said by now the only pollutants that were registered in the area were from detergents and other substances, including chlorine, and the fuel traces are “compatible with what you find in a port”.
At the moment, oil-removal equipment is on stand-by, waiting for the search-and-rescue operations to conclude before workers can start extracting the fuel from the ship’s tanks.
Costa Concordia’s Captain Francesco Schettino, who is being under house arrest, is accused of manslaughter; causing a shipwreck; and abandoning the ship.
Reportedly, Schettino admitted changing the course of the cruiser, which led to the accident, in order to perform a “salute” – a greeting to islanders of Giglio. However, he says the move was ordered by the company that owns the cruiser. Costa Crociere managers deny his claims.