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2 Bodies Raise Death Toll to 5 in Sinking of Cruise Ship, Costa Concordia

The divers found the bodies in the submerged part of the cruise ship, Costa Concordia, the Italian news outlet Ansa reported.

The discovery of the bodies followed better news overnight, as three people were rescued from the ship’s wreckage. A crew member of was hoisted to safety by helicopter this morning, and a honeymooning couple was rescued from their cabin overnight, as officials scrambled to locate other missing people and threatened to charge the ship’s captain with manslaughter.

The Costa Concordia struck a reef and sank onto its side off of the small island of Giglio, Italy, early Saturday. The U.S. embassy in Rome said Saturday that none of the 126 Americans on board the ship are among those who were seriously injured.

The latest rescue this morning was of an Italian who worked for the ship’s cabin service and was hoisted off the ship with a broken leg approximately 36 hours after the accident, according to The Associated Press. It followed the rescue of South Korean newlyweds late Saturday after screams were heard coming from their cabin.

Before the latest bodies were found today, 17 people remained unaccounted for — 11 passengers and six crew members, Tuscany’s regional president, Enrico Rossi, told reporters. The number was reduced from an earlier estimate of 40 unaccounted for.

The gleaming ship was carrying 4,234 passengers and crew when it struck rocks off Italy’s west coast during the night, tearing a 160-foot long gash in the hull.

Investigators now believe the ship was dangerously close to the shore and hit a rock that the captain claims was unmarked.

The captain of the ship, Francesco Schettino, is now in custody, facing possible charges with manslaughter and abandoning his ship.

The incident began at approx 9:15 p.m. Friday, just as passengers were having dinner.

Passengers heard a loud bang and then a blackout. Minutes later, an announcement from the crew said it was merely an eletrical problem. But with the ship tilting, many passengers ignored their orders and scrambled to the deck.

Vacationers reported the crew did not want to lower the lifeboats. Many reported forcing their way on against orders. Some were lowered, but not everyone got on.

By 11 p.m., the ship was tilting too much to its side and many lifeboats couldn’t be lowered. Many of the ship’s occupants jumped in to the icy waters to make a swim for it, and at least 50 people had to be airlifted by helicopter.

Schettino was detained by authorities and questioned along with the ship’s first bridge officer, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. ANSA said the captain could face criminal charges.

The agency reported that Schettino could be charged with abandoning ship since he reportedly left the stricken vessel about 12:30 a.m., while many passengers didn’t get safely off the ship until 6 a.m.

There are also reports in the Italian press that Schettino took the Costa Concordia close to the harbor of Giglio island many times in the past so his passengers could take photographs.

The captain’s lawyer, Bruno Leporatti, said Schettino was taken to the Grosseto jail, but argued that the captain was a hero.

“I would like to say that hundreds of people owe their life to the captain of the Costa Concordia’s skill in an emergency,” the lawyer said. “You have to be very good to bring a ship like this which is 117,000 tons and 300 meters long, which is sinking after a collision, close to land to allow for easy rescue so as to save so many people. I think the maneuver was brilliant from a nautical point of view.”

Harrowing tales of chaos ensued for several hours as the crew and passengers tried to scramble to safety.

 

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