Shipwreck movements again halt search of Costa Concordia | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 29.01.2012
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Shipwreck movements again halt search of Costa Concordia

Stop-and-go search efforts on the shipwrecked Costa Concordia cruise liner have stopped again, after movements in the wreckage and poor weather also halted an operation to remove the ship's fuel.

Shipwrecked Costa Concordia

Some 500,000 gallons of fuel remain on the ship

A shift in the position of the cruise ship that ran aground off the Italian coast has forced diving teams to halt their search for some 16 missing passengers, after efforts to pump out the ship's fuel were already interrupted by inclement weather.

"There was greater movement caused by heavy seas, wind and low tide and as a precaution, operations have been suspended," a spokesman for the rescue authorities said Sunday.

A 17th body discovered on Saturday has been confirmed as that of a 25-year-old Peruvian crew member. Some 16 people remain missing and are presumed to be dead. The Costa Concordia hit rocks off the island of Giglio on January 13.

Fuel removal a complex task

Authorities have also delayed the start of an operation to remove some of the 500,000 gallons (1.9 million liters) of fuel from the ship's outer tanks. The operation has to be conducted with extreme care as the surrounding waters belong to a protected marine sanctuary.

Divers have drilled holes in four of the six outer tanks and installed valves on them. The oil must be warmed to make it easier to pump out, and seawater must be pumped in to displace the oil.

The wreck itself may not be removed for another seven to 10 months, according to Franco Gabrielli, the official in charge of the recovery operation.

"We already knew that this was a very long, drawn out case but I think it's important that everyone is very aware that it will have a very significant timeframe," he told reporters.

The ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, remains under house arrest. He faces accusations of manslaughter for allegedly steering the ship too close to shore. He also allegedly abandoned the ship before all passengers were evacuated, a crime under Italian law.

Author: Andrew Bowen (AP, Reuters, dpa)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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