Rough Seas Delay Fuel Pumping From Wrecked Cruise Ship

Posted January 28th, 2012 at 9:00 am (UTC-5)
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Salvage crews preparing to pump thousands of tons of fuel from a wrecked cruise ship off Italy's coast have delayed operations due to rough seas.

Officials say a barge carrying pumping equipment was withdrawn Saturday because of unsafe conditions.

Crews are hoping to empty the vessel's fuel tanks to avert an environmental catastrophe.

Meanwhile, the search continued for bodies on the Costa Concordia, which lies half-submerged near Giglio island off Italy's northwestern coast. Divers found the body of a woman on Saturday, bringing the confirmed number of people killed in the accident to 17. Sixteen people are still missing.

On Friday, the owners of the cruise ship offered about $14,500 in compensation to each of the uninjured passengers who were aboard the vessel. Costa Cruises said it also will refund those passengers the costs of their cruise and trip home.

Passengers are free to pursue legal action if they do not accept the deal, which does not apply to the injured passengers.

The parent company of Costa Cruises, U.S.-based Carnival, is already facing legal action for compensation.

The Costa Concordia was grounded on January 13 after gashing its hull on reefs near the coastline.

The captain of the ship, Francesco Schettino, remains under house arrest, accused of manslaughter and abandoning ship before all of the vessel's 4,200 passengers and crew could reach safety.