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Liner searchers find five bodies

Search crews in Italy have found five more bodies in the wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, which struck a reef off an island in January.

The latest development raises to 30 the number of bodies found. Two people are still missing and are presumed dead.

The Italian Civil Protection agency co-ordinating search operations said the bodies were all found in spaces between the hull and the seabed off the Tuscan island of Giglio.

Since the January 13 capsizing, the Concordia has been lying on its side, half-submerged in water near Giglio's port.

It was not clear when the bodies would be removed.

Franco Gabrielli, the official co-ordinating the search and salvage efforts, told reporters on the island that the bodies were spotted when divers were working to set up a robotic device to search otherwise inaccessible parts of the wreck.

The bodies were seen "in the spaces between the hull and the seabed", he said. He added that it would take several days of work for the bodies to be removed.

All of the other bodies found previously had been inside the ship, except for three found in the sea near the ship in the first hours after the Concordia capsized.

The ship hit a rocky reef, took on water and turned over just outside Giglio's port on January 13. Since then, divers and searchers have been combing the half-submerged ship, from passenger cabins to lifts to the decks where many of the 4,200 passengers and crew gathered during the delayed and frantic evacuation. Many jumped into the sea when lifeboats were unable to be launched because of the ship's tilt.

Even before the latest bodies were found, eight removed in recent weeks were awaiting official identification. Weeks in the water badly decomposed the remains, and forensic authorities have used DNA sampling to try to identify them. A crew member from India and several passengers, including an elderly US couple and others from Italy and Germany, are among those listed as missing or unidentified.

www.costacruises.co.uk/(Costa Cruises)

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