Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

'29 missing' in cruise disaster

An oil removal ship nears the Costa Concordia amid fears that if the ship shifts significantly gallons of fuel may begin to leak (AP)
An oil removal ship nears the Costa Concordia amid fears that if the ship shifts significantly gallons of fuel may begin to leak (AP)
Francesco Schettino has been accused of making 'an unapproved, unauthorised' deviation to his route (AP)
GIGLIO PORTO, ITALY - JANUARY 14: Crowds gather on the island of Giglio, where passengers aboard the cruise ship Costa Concordia have been staying after the vessel ran aground, on January 14, 2012 in Giglio Porto, Italy. More than four thousand people were on board when the ship hit a sandbank. At least 3 people have been confirmed dead and another 50 are unaccounted for. (Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images)
The luxury cruise ship Costa Concordia leans on its starboard side as seen from the Giglio harbour (AP)
GIGLIO PORTO, ITALY - JANUARY 14: A general view of the scene on the island of Giglio, near to where the cruise ship Costa Concordia ran aground, on January 14, 2012 in Giglio Porto, Italy. More than four thousand people were on board when the ship hit a sandbank. At least 3 people have been confirmed dead and another 50 are unaccounted for. (Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images)
GIGLIO PORTO, ITALY - JANUARY 14: The cruise ship Costa Concordia lies stricken off the shore of the island of Giglio, on January 14, 2012 in Giglio Porto, Italy. More than four thousand people were on board when the ship hit a sandbank. At least 3 people have been confirmed dead and another 50 are unaccounted for. (Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images)
GIGLIO PORTO, ITALY - JANUARY 14: Crowds gather on the island of Giglio, where passengers aboard the cruise ship Costa Concordia have been staying after the vessel ran aground, on January 14, 2012 in Giglio Porto, Italy. More than four thousand people were on board when the ship hit a sandbank. At least 3 people have been confirmed dead and another 50 are unaccounted for. (Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images)
GIGLIO PORTO, ITALY - JANUARY 14: Crowds gather on the island of Giglio, where passengers aboard the cruise ship Costa Concordia have been staying after the vessel ran aground, on January 14, 2012 in Giglio Porto, Italy. More than four thousand people were on board when the ship hit a sandbank. At least 3 people have been confirmed dead and another 50 are unaccounted for. (Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images)
GIGLIO PORTO, ITALY - JANUARY 14: The cruise ship Costa Concordia lies stricken off the shore of the island of Giglio, on January 14, 2012 in Giglio Porto, Italy. More than four thousand people were on board when the ship hit a sandbank. At least 3 people have been confirmed dead and another 50 are unaccounted for. (Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images)
GIGLIO PORTO, ITALY - JANUARY 14: The cruise ship Costa Concordia lies stricken off the shore of the island of Giglio, on January 14, 2012 in Giglio Porto, Italy. More than four thousand people were on board when the ship hit a sandbank. At least 3 people have been confirmed dead and another 50 are unaccounted for. (Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images)
GIGLIO PORTO, ITALY - JANUARY 14: The cruise ship Costa Concordia lies stricken off the shore of the island of Giglio, on January 14, 2012 in Giglio Porto, Italy. More than four thousand people were on board when the ship hit a sandbank. At least 3 people have been confirmed dead and another 50 are unaccounted for. (Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images)
GIGLIO PORTO, ITALY - JANUARY 14: The cruise ship Costa Concordia lies stricken off the shore of the island of Giglio, on January 14, 2012 in Giglio Porto, Italy. More than four thousand people were on board when the ship hit a sandbank. At least 3 people have been confirmed dead and another 50 are unaccounted for. (Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images)
GIGLIO PORTO, ITALY - JANUARY 14: The cruise ship Costa Concordia lies stricken off the shore of the island of Giglio, on January 14, 2012 in Giglio Porto, Italy. More than four thousand people were on board when the ship hit a sandbank. At least 3 people have been confirmed dead and another 50 are unaccounted for. (Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images)
GIGLIO PORTO, ITALY - JANUARY 14: The cruise ship Costa Concordia lies stricken off the shore of the island of Giglio, on January 14, 2012 in Giglio Porto, Italy. More than four thousand people were on board when the ship hit a sandbank. At least 3 people have been confirmed dead and another 50 are unaccounted for. (Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images)
GIGLIO PORTO, ITALY - JANUARY 14: The cruise ship Costa Concordia lies stricken off the shore of the island of Giglio, on January 14, 2012 in Giglio Porto, Italy. More than four thousand people were on board when the ship hit a sandbank. At least 3 people have been confirmed dead and another 50 are unaccounted for. (Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images)
GIGLIO PORTO, ITALY - JANUARY 14: The cruise ship Costa Concordia lies stricken off the shore of the island of Giglio, on January 14, 2012 in Giglio Porto, Italy. More than four thousand people were on board when the ship hit a sandbank. At least 3 people have been confirmed dead and another 50 are unaccounted for. (Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images)
GIGLIO PORTO, ITALY - JANUARY 14: Crowds gather on the island of Giglio, where passengers aboard the cruise ship Costa Concordia have been staying after the vessel ran aground, on January 14, 2012 in Giglio Porto, Italy. More than four thousand people were on board when the ship hit a sandbank. At least 3 people have been confirmed dead and another 50 are unaccounted for. (Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images)
GIGLIO PORTO, ITALY - JANUARY 14: Crowds gather on the island of Giglio, where passengers aboard the cruise ship Costa Concordia have been staying after the vessel ran aground, on January 14, 2012 in Giglio Porto, Italy. More than four thousand people were on board when the ship hit a sandbank. At least 3 people have been confirmed dead and another 50 are unaccounted for. (Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images)

The number of people missing from a shipwreck off Italy has risen to 29, as the captain was accused of sailing close to land to "make a salute".

Italian coastguard official Marco Brusco said 25 passengers and four crew members remain unaccounted for three days after the vessel crashed into a reef off the Tuscan coast near the island of Giglio. Six people have been confirmed dead.

At least three Italian families have said that although their loved ones were listed among those safely evacuated, they have not heard any word from them. About 10 Germans are thought to be among those unaccounted for.

Mr Brusco said he held a "glimmer of hope" that some of the missing might have survived, but Giglio mayor Sergio Ortelli said earlier that hopes of finding any of them alive are minimal. He told the Italian press that the only hope is that bubbles of air had formed within the ship after it hit the rocks.

The operator of the Costa Concordia cruise liner blamed the captain for sailing close to land to "show the ship to the port".

The chairman of Costa Cruises said the unauthorised deviation from the route had been taken to "make a salute". Pier Luigi Foschi has apologised for the tragedy which has left dozens of people injured and the 114,000-tonne Costa Concordia lying on its side off Tuscany.

At the centre of the investigation into the disaster is the liner's captain, Francesco Schettino, who is being investigated by prosecutors for possible manslaughter, abandoning ship and causing a shipwreck. He has been accused of leaving the vessel before ensuring that all of the 4,200 people aboard, including 35 Britons, were safely evacuated.

Mr Schettino insisted in an interview before his jailing that he stayed with the vessel to the end. Mr Schettino, who has commanded the ship since it was built in 2006, has said that nautical charts did not show the rocks off the tiny island of Giglio.

The search for any survivors continued until it had to be suspended in early afternoon after the vessel shifted a few inches in rough seas. Later, with the weather improving, the search resumed.

Costa Cruises are concerned about the 500,000 gallons of fuel on board which are in 17 separate tanks. It is feared that any further movement of the ship could cause some of it to leak into the water.

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