Italian Cruise Ship Sinking: Sixth Body Found
(PORTO SANTO STEFANO, Italy) -- A sixth body has been found in the wreckage of the Costa Concordia cruise ship that capsized off the coast of Tuscany as rescue workers continue searching for survivors in the part of the ship that is above water.
The sixth body to be found on the cruise ship Costa off Giglio is still unidentified, though it has been confirmed by Italian news outlet Ansa that the man was a passenger on the ship. The man was found on the second deck in a part of the ship which was not flooded by water. He had his life vest on.
Sixteen people are still unaccounted for after the Costa Concordia, which was carrying 4,234 passengers and crew, hit rocks Friday evening near Giglio, a small island off the coast of Tuscany. Investigators say the ship was an "incredibly close" 150 meters (roughly 500 feet) from the shore.
The bodies of two passengers found wearing life jackets aboard the ship were identified Sunday, officials said. Both passengers were elderly men -- one Italian, the other Spanish. The bodies were found earlier Sunday near a gathering point in the submerged part of the luxury liner.
"While the investigation is ongoing, preliminary indications are that there may have been significant human error on the part of the ship's master, Captain Francesco Schettino, which resulted in these grave consequences," Costa Cruises said in a statement. "The route of the vessel appears to have been too close to the shore, and in handling the emergency the captain appears not to have followed standard Costa procedures."
Experts are still analyzing the ship's black box, which has already revealed a one-hour lag between the time of the impact on the rocks at 9:45 p.m. local time Friday and the ship's alarm call to the coast guard at about 10:43 p.m. Investigators suspect Schettino tried to maneuver the ship before alerting coast guard, the Italian news outlet Ansa reported.
Schettino is in custody, facing possible charges of manslaughter and abandoning his ship. Schettino reportedly left the stricken vessel at approximately 12:30 a.m., while many passengers didn't get safely off the ship until 6 a.m., Ansa reported.
Ten passengers and six crew members are still unaccounted for. The number was reduced from an earlier estimate of 40 unaccounted for.
The U.S. embassy in Rome estimates 120 Americans were on board the ship, of which 118 have been accounted for.
"Our immediate priority is to account for all passengers and crew, and to secure the vessel to ensure that there are no environmental impacts," Costa Cruises said in a statement. "We have engaged the services of a top specialized salvage company to develop an action plan and help establish a protection perimeter around the ship."
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