Divers Find 2 More Italian Cruise Ship Victims; Fuel Removal to Begin

Posted January 23rd, 2012 at 5:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Italian officials say two more bodies have been found on the capsized Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia, bringing the number of confirmed dead from the disaster to 15.

Italy's civil protection agency chief, Franco Gabrielli, said Monday divers found the bodies of two women near the ship's Internet cafe. Most of those killed in the January 13 sinking have not been identified.

Seventeen people — most of them passengers — are still listed as missing. There is also concern that some unregistered passengers may have been on board.

The capsized ship is lying half-submerged in the Mediterranean Sea off the small Italian island of Giglio.

Officials say the removal of nearly 2,500 metric tons of fuel from the ship can start. They say there is no danger of the ship sinking further, spilling oil and creating an environmental disaster.

The captain of the cruise ship, Francesco Schettino, is under house arrest, accused of manslaughter and abandoning the vessel before all the passengers could find safety.

In the wake of the disaster, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Origination is calling on the Italian government to restrict large cruise ship traffic from ecologically sensitive areas, such as the Venice Lagoon.

UNESCO says heavy ship traffic in the lagoon causes tides that erode building foundations and contribute to pollution.