Italian search authorities have announced an end to their underwater search aboard the partially submerged cruise liner, Costa Concordia. Relatives and survivors are planning legal action against the owners.
Italian authorities announced on Tuesday that they had halted the search for bodies on the submerged section of the Costa Concordia cruise liner, more than two weeks after it capsized.
Conditions on the wreck had become too unsafe for divers to continue their search of the 290-meter (275-yard) long vessel. The families of the remaining 15 missing people had been informed.
Authorities said that the search would continue on the parts of the ship remaining above water, as well as the surrounding waters.
A total of 17 bodies have been recovered since the ship - carrying 4,200 passengers - ran into rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio on January 13.
The German Foreign Office confirmed on Tuesday that six of the dead were German, along with another six of the missing passengers.
Fears that ship could slide
The search had already been delayed several times because of choppy waters and movements that led experts to fear the wreck could slide off the underwater shelf on which it rests.
Salvage crews plan to start pumping this week to remove more than 2,300 metric tons of diesel from the wreck. The operation, which has so far been delayed due to poor weather, is expected to last several weeks.
Italian consumer association Codacons was due to make an announcement on Tuesday about a class action lawsuit for survivors and relatives against the US-based Carnival Corporation, parent company of the ship's owner, Costa Crociere.
On Monday, residents of Giglio - a popular summer tourist destination - voiced concern for their livelihoods after officials said it could take 10 months to remove the wreck.
Author: Richard Connor (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Andrew Bowen