23 January 2012

Costa Concordia death toll rises to twelve:

Searching the capsized Costa Concordia Saturday, Italian divers recovered a woman’s body, the twelfth fatality in last week’s cruise ship catastrophe.  Although more than twenty people are still missing, the Italian Coast Guard is growing eager to begin serious recovery operations before the massive liner slips from its precarious spot atop a coastal reef.  If the ship sinks deeper, recovery and salvage operations become considerably more complicated, and the risk of environmental disaster increases exponentially as seawater seeps into engines, fuel tanks, and other machinery.

Divers said they found the drowned woman, still wearing her life vest, trapped in a narrow hallway near one of the life-boat boarding stations.  In order to pass through the narrow passage, divers had to wait for Italian Navy under-water demolition experts to clear obstructions with small explosive charges.  Recovery divers reported they easily could see how the woman might have been trapped in rapidly shifting debris; and they speculated she may have been a crew member who let passengers board the life boat before her.  A female Peruvian bartender numbers among the missing.

Relatives of the missing persons joined the Coast Guard, imploring the 4000 people who evacuated the ship after it ran aground to share whatever information they may have about the twenty people still unaccounted for.  “We are asking the 4,000 persons who were on board to give any information they can about any of the persons still missing,” Alain Litzler, a Frenchman who is the father of missing passenger Mylene Litzler told the Associated Press on Friday. “We need precise information to help the search and rescue teams find them.”

Police divers find captain’s files.

Captain Francesco Schettino faces manslaughter charges and has come under fire for abandoning his ship very shortly after it capsized.  Authorities believe the ship ran aground on a perilously rocky reef as a result of Shettino’s reckless attempt to navigate well outside standard sea lanes to give his passengers an exceptionally close-up view of Giglio Island.  Shettino is under house arrest while police and maritime authorities review his conduct and management of the evacuation.
Early Saturday, police divers found and recovered the captain’s safe and two of his suitcases; other divers searching the bridge found a hard disk containing data about the voyage.  That hard disk will supplement findings from the ship’s two “black boxes” recovered earlier this week.  Other experienced captains familiar with the cruise ship’s course have described Shettino’s maneuver as “foolishly arrogant and just plain stupid.”

Divers have seen no indication that any of the half-million gallons of heavy fuel oil aboard Costa Concordia have leaked from their double-bottomed tanks, but authorities warn that the ship easily could hit more sharp rocks if it shifts and sinks deeper.  Therefore, they want to begin off-laoding fuel oil as soon as possible, and they have specialized equipment standing by.

Source: Nowt News. 23 January 2012

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