UPDATE: Italian media reported Tuesday morning that five more bodies were found, bringing the cruise ship’s death toll to 11 and, consequently, lowering the number of those missing to 24.
(GIGLIO, Italy) — Search and rescue divers have now blasted holes in the hull of the Costa Concordia cruise ship that ran aground off of the coast of Tuscany to aid their frantic search for 29 unaccounted for passengers and crew members.
A top coast guard official, Marco Brusco, said on state TV late Monday that 25 passengers and four crew members have not been found in the wreckage of the ship, including one five-year-old girl.
Rescue teams searching for survivors blasted through the vessel’s hull Tuesday, creating large holes for better access to lower decks of the ship.
Navy spokesman Alessandro Busonero told Sky TV 24 the micro-charges set early Tuesday created four openings to allow divers, “to enter easily for the search.”
Operations are now in motion to retrieve a second black box recorder that has been located in the wreckage, Warrant Petty Officer Massimo Macaroni of the Italian Coast Guard told ABC News. The device, along with another recorder that’s been found will be analyzed by prosecutors and provide authorities with, “a complete picture of how the disaster unfolded,” CNN reported.
The number of people reported missing continues to fluctuate, as the coast guard said all but 16 people — including a couple from Minnesota — had been accounted for. The official number rose after officials in other countries had reported higher numbers of missing citizens.
On Tuesday, La Stampa newspaper reported six bodies have been recovered and that rescuers saw a seventh body, but couldn’t reach it; La Stampa is the only Italian media outlet reporting this, while Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera is still reporting that only six bodies have been recovered.
The U.S. Embassy in Rome estimates 120 Americans were on board the ship and 118 have been accounted for. The nationalities of the unaccounted for are: six Italians, 14 Germans, four French, one Hungarian, two Americans, one Indian and one Peruvian.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Chieu Luu and Huizhong Wu, CNN
Oren Liebermann, CNN Newswire