(GIGLIO, Italy) — The Costa Concordia cruise ship that partially capsized off the Tuscan coast earlier this month may not be removed until the end of 2012. This news comes as rough water again hampered the latest recovery operations.
Officials announced Sunday that it may take 10 months to remove the ship off the port of the island of Giglio. The beginning of operations to remove 500,000 gallons of the ship’s fuel was halted after the cruise liner moved an inch-and-a-half over six hours, shoved by waves reaching as high as three feet.
Only once the fuel is removed can work begin on removing the ship, either by raising it in one piece or cutting it up and towing it away as a wreck.
On Saturday, the body of Peruvian crew member Erika Soria Molina was found, raising the death toll to 17; 16 crew members and passengers remain missing.
One of the bodies brought from the sunken vessel has yet to be identified. Among those missing are Americans Gerald and Barbara Heil from White Bear Lake, Minn.
For now, the immediate focus is on the environment and the removing of half a million gallons of diesel fuel from the ship’s tanks before it leaks out. Officials said pumping may now not begin until midweek.
So far no leakage has been reported in the area, which is a protected marine sanctuary and popular scuba diving area.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Mohammed Tawfeeq and Gul Tuysuz, CNN
Georgia McCafferty and Junko Ogura, CNN