Divers Blast Rescue Hole in Italian Cruise Ship
Tuesday, 17 January 2012 08:25
By the CNN Wire Staff
Divers trying to locate survivors of the Costa Concordia cruise ship accident used explosives to blow a hole in the hull of the vessel to allow access for search-and-rescue teams, Italian Navy officials said Tuesday.
A total of 28 people remain missing following the wreck, which led to six deaths, Italian officials said Tuesday.
The list includes 14 Germans, six Italians, including a crew member, four French people, two Americans, and one each from Hungary, India and Peru, all of whom are crew members.
One person on that list was found dead Monday, but authorities have not specified which one it is.
The German Foreign Ministry said earlier Tuesday that 12 Germans were unaccounted for.
The announcement came on the same day that Italy's Coast Guard said it has located a second "black box," or data recorder, from the ship that wrecked off Italy's western coast Friday evening.
Operations were under way to retrieve the recorder, said Coast Guard Warrant Petty Officer Massimo Macaroni.
Information from the device, along with that from another that has already been recovered and is being analyzed by prosecutors, will provide authorities with "a complete picture of how the disaster unfolded," Macaroni said.
Meanwhile, an Italian newspaper printed excerpts of a conversation between the captain and coast guards on shore during the incident.
Capt. Francesco Schettino gave contradictory answers about whether he had abandoned the ship, prompting authorities on shore to instruct him to return to it.
"Commander, this is an order. Now I am in charge. You have abandoned ship," the unnamed coast guard says, telling him to go back to the vessel and coordinate rescue efforts.
Prosecutor Francesco Verusio confirmed that the partial conversation printed in Corriere della Serra matched a transcript prosecutors had.
Authorities questioned Schettino at a closed hearing Tuesday, his attorney said.
He is under arrest and may face charges that include manslaughter, shipwreck, and abandoning a ship when passengers were still on board, Verusio said.
Schettino could face up to 15 years in prison, the prosecutor said.
The captain's attorney, Bruno Leporatti, said in a statement Monday that Schettino was "shattered, dismayed, saddened for the loss of lives and strongly disturbed."
But, he said, Schettino is "nonetheless comforted by the fact that he maintained during those moments the necessary lucidity to put in place a difficult emergency maneuver ... bringing the ship to shallow waters." That move, Leporatti said, saved the lives of many passengers and crew members.
Italian prosecutors have ruled out a technical error as the cause of the incident, saying the captain was on the bridge at the time and had made a "grave error."
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