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Costa Concordia search halts as ship edges into risky position

Costa Concordia search halts as ship edges into risky position
The painstaking search of the stranded Costa Concordia was suspended on Wednesday morning after the vessel shifted slightly once again from its resting place, rendering it unsafe. Current reports put the number of dead at 11 and the missing at 22, and at this stage the hope of finding survivors on board the vessel appear to be waning. About 80 people are understood to have been injured, some seriously.

They include a Bangladeshi cook who risks being paralysed and Manrico Giampietroni, the ship’s officer who was found on board by rescuers on the first day of the search, who has had an operation on his leg.

Beyond the rescue operations, meanwhile, the judge who ordered the release of the ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, from a Grosseto jail and permitted him to return home—if under house arrest—said in justifying her decision that there is a risk of evidence being compromised but that Schettino did not represent a flight risk. The Grosseto prosecutor’s office will appeal the decision.

In a radio interview on Wednesday, Grosseto chief prosecutor Francesco Verrusio said ‘We have reason to believe he might seek to run from his responsibilities. The crimes we are considering are very serious and the punishment is very severe.’

If the judge’s reasoning left the Grosseto prosecutors perplexed, so too has Schettino’s tale of how he was knocked into a lifeboat by faulty winch equipment and then found it impossible to clamber back on board because of the listing of the ship.

Costa Crociere, meanwhile, issued a statement expressing its condolences following yesterday’s discovery of five more bodies on board the Concordia. The company said its priority ‘remains the location of those passengers and crew who have not yet been accounted for.’

Costa added that ‘we continue to cooperate with authorities to support the rescue and recovery efforts and to help secure the vessel to ensure there is no environmental impact.’

Savalge expert SMIT is preparing to begin the operation of offloading the vessel’s fuel oil. The contract for righting the vessel and towing it to safety, after which a decision can be made on its future, will not be awarded until the investigators have completed their work.