ROME, ITALY – A sixth body has been discovered in the wreck of the Costa cruise liner which hit a reef off the coast of Italy on Friday night on Jan.13th. Confusion still remains over the number of victims thought to be missing, but so far 15 are unaccounted for.
Six people are confirmed dead and prosecutors are investigating the ship’s captain for manslaughter, abandoning ship and causing a shipwreck. The ship’s owner says the captain, Francesco Schettino, caused the wreck by deviating from the authorized course.
A retired Minnesota man and his wife are among the 15 people unaccounted for after the Costa cruise ship hit a reef and capsized off the west coast of Italy, their family said in a statement Monday.
Jerry Heil, 69, and his wife Barbara, 70, of White Bear Lake, a St. Paul suburb, have not been seen since Friday night, the Heil family said.
Rescuers are still searching thousands of cabins for the missing, but say that the angle of the vessel is making the search of the multi story ship more difficult due to the fear that the ship could shift.
Three survivors were found on Sunday including the chief purser who was winched off the ship with a broken leg.
Dutch salvage experts who have also been inspecting the ship say that the fuel tanks have not been ruptured reducing fears of a possible oil spill.
Carnival Corp., the parent company of Costa Cruises, blamed human error by its commander, saying on Monday that he made an “unapproved, unauthorized maneuver” to divert from its programmed course.
Costa Cruises boss Pier Luigi Foschi accused Capt Francesco Schettino of sailing too close to a nearby island in order to show the ship to locals. The captain is blaming the disaster on rocks which were not on his chart.
BBC News reports:
Mr Foschi fought back tears as he apologized for the accident at a news conference in Genoa.
The divers have the most dangerous job of all right now. So dangerous that specialized cave-divers have been brought in to assist in searching through the ship.
The Italian Navy’s lead diver in this operation told me that inside the ship it’s dark, dangerous and easy to get disorientated. Because you feel gravity less under water, it’s harder to determine which way is up. And the reference points, floors, ceilings, in the ship are all turned on their side.
Another diver, from the Italian coastguard, spoke of finding the bodies of two elderly men. They pulled them out, floating them through the ship’s dining room. Tables, chairs, and personal belongings are floating round the ship. The visibility is poor. It’s a grim task.
“The company will be close to the captain and will provide him with all the necessary assistance, but we need to acknowledge the facts and we cannot deny human error,” he said.
“This route was put in correctly. The fact that it left from this course is due solely to a maneuver by the commander that was unapproved, unauthorized and unknown to Costa.
“He wanted to show the ship, to [go] nearby this island of Giglio, so he decided to change the course of the ship to go closer to the island.”
The Italian police have detained Captain Schettino for questioning on charges of manslaughter, failure to offer assistance and abandonment of the ship.