Ship search finds 12th body, captain’s safe, documents
January 22, 2012
GIGLIO, Italy (AP) – Divers plumbing the capsized Costa Concordia’s murky depths pulled out the body of a woman in a life vest Saturday, while scuba-diving police swam through the captain’s cabin to retrieve a safe and documents belonging to the man who abandoned the cruise liner after it was gashed by a rocky reef on the Tuscan coast.
Hoping for a miracle – or at least for the recovery of bodies from the ship that has become an underwater tomb – relatives of some of the 20 missing appealed to survivors of the Jan. 13 shipwreck to offer details that could help divers reach loved ones while it is still possible to search the luxury liner. The clock is ticking because the craft is perched precariously on a rocky ledge of seabed near Giglio island.
“We are asking the 4,000 persons who were on board to give any information they can about any of the persons still missing,” said Alain Litzler, a Frenchman who is the father of missing passenger Mylene Litzler. “We need precise information to help the search and rescue teams find them.”
The death toll rose to at least 12 Saturday after a water-logged body was extracted from a passageway near a gathering point for evacuation by lifeboats in the rear of the vessel, Coast Guard Cmdr. Filippo Marini said. It was not immediately clear if the woman was a passenger or crew member. A female Peruvian bartender and several adult female passengers were among the 21 people listed as missing before the latest corpse was found.
Relatives of the bartender and of an Indian crewman, along with two children of an elderly couple from Minnesota who are among the missing, boarded a boat Saturday to view the wrecked Concordia Saturday, said a maritime official, Fabrizio Palombo.
Family members tossed flowers near the site while islanders standing on the rocky edge of the island also strew bouquets on the water in a tribute to the victims.
Another Coast Guard official, Cosimo Nicastro, said the woman’s body was found during a particularly risky inspection.
“The corridor was very narrow, and the divers’ lines risked snagging” on furniture and objects floating in the passageway, Nicastro said. To help the coast guard divers reach the area, Italian navy divers had preceded them, setting off charges to blast holes for easier entrance and exit.
Meanwhile, police divers, carrying out orders from prosecutors investigating Captain Francesco Schettino for suspected manslaughter and abandoning the ship, swam through the cold, dark waters to reach his cabin. State TV and the Italian news agency ANSA reported that the divers located and remove his safe and two suitcases.
His passport and several documents were also pulled out, state media said.
Searchers inspecting the bridge Saturday also found a hard disk containing data of the voyage, Sky TG24 TV reported.
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