Italian Cruise Ship Wreck: Missing Grows to 29


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STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images(GIGLIO, Italy) — The number of people missing in the Italian cruise ship wreck has been increased to 29, the Italian coast guard said late Monday.

A top coast guard official, Marco Brusco, said on state TV that 25 passengers and four crew members have not been found.

The increased number of missing threatens to eventually boost the fatality count from the capsized ship.  At the moment, at least six people are confirmed dead.

The discouraging announcement came after the coast guard had 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.

The search for survivors was still under way Monday as night fell, even though some officials said that the possibility of finding passengers and crew still alive three days after the vessel ran aground near the small island of Giglio grew slim.

“The hopes of finding any more survivors are fading,” Sergio Ortelli, the mayor of Giglio, told The Sun on Monday.

Francesco Schettino, the ship’s captain, is being detained and questioned on allegations of manslaughter and abandoning the ship.  He is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.

Rescue efforts had been halted for about three hours earlier in the day because the huge vessel sits on a 120-foot ledge and had shifted slightly as the water got rough.  Officials feared the ship could be pushed off the ledge into water that is 224 feet deep.

Officials, however, told ABC News on Monday that it had moved only about 1.5 centimeters and resumed their search for bodies and possible survivors.

The Costa Concordia was carrying 4,234 passengers and crew when it hit rocks Friday evening near Giglio, off the coast of Tuscany.  Investigators say the ship was “incredibly close,” about 450 feet from the shore.

At a news conference Monday, Costa Cruises chief executive officer Pier Luigi Foschi said the ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, had made an unapproved, unauthorized maneuver to change the ship’s programmed course.

It’s unclear why the ship was so close to shore.  Early reports said that Schettino often brought the ship near island’s port so passengers could take photographs.  Italian media on Monday, however, reported that he drew near the shore so he could wave to a friend who was on land.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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