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Cruise ship search resumes; 21 still missing

Updated at 10:04 a.m. ET

ROME - Divers restarted the search Thursday for 21 people still missing after a cruise ship crashed into the rocky Tuscan coast, but a forecast of rough seas added uncertainty to the operation and to plans to begin pumping fuel from the stranded vessel.

Eleven people have been confirmed dead, their bodies removed from the ship and frigid waters. CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey says hopes of finding anyone still alive in the wreck have largely faded six days after it ran aground on a Tuscan island.

Separately, a new audiotape emerged of the first contact between port officials and the Costa Concordia cruise ship in which the captain insists there has only been a blackout on board. The recording was time-stamped at 10:12 p.m. Friday, more than 30 minutes after the ship hit a reef and panicked passengers had fled to get their lifejackets.

However, a report by the Los Angeles Times Wednesday only identified the person speaking from the ship as "an officer," not the captain specifically.

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The $450 million Costa Concordia was carrying more than 4,200 passengers and crew when it slammed into well-marked rocks off the island of Giglio after the captain made an unauthorized diversion Friday from his programmed route. The ship then keeled over on its side.

Meanwhile, the bodies of three more dead were identified: the Grossetto prefect's office confirmed that French passengers Jeanne Gannard and Pierre Gregoire were among the dead, while Spain's foreign ministry said Guillermo Gual, 68, of Mallorca, had also died.

Divers were focusing on an evacuation route on the fourth level, now about 60 feet below the water's surface, where five bodies were found earlier this week, Navy spokesman Alessandro Busonero told Sky TG 24.

Crews set off small explosions in the ship's hull earlier this week to blow holes into hard-to-reach areas for easier access by divers. Officials restarted the search after determining the ship had stabilized after shifting on the rocks Wednesday.

"Today is an important day, the weather forecasts are negative, rough sea, we'll have to see how the ship reacts to that," firefighter spokesman Luca Cari said Thursday.

Italy's environment minister has warned of the ecological implications if the ship sinks or the fuel leaks, since the area is close to a marine sanctuary for whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Pizzey reported the massive amounts of equipment that will be needed to drain the fuel from the wreck, and eventually move it, are already arriving, and the hunt for bodies is tied to growing concern over a possible environmental disaster; authorities insist all the rescuers must be off the ship before the operation to remove the 500,000 gallons of fuel in the ship's tanks begins.

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While the company tasked with siphoning off the fuel says every precaution will be taken to prevent a spill, and anti-pollution booms have been laid between the wreck and the shoreline, local residents whose whole way of life is under threat are worried it won't be enough.

"It will be an environmental disaster and it would be a commercial disaster for the island's tourism which is the main source of revenue," Elizabeth Nanni, vice president of Giglio's tourism office, tells Pizzey.

Authorities on Wednesday identified the first victim: Sandor Feher, a 38-year-old Hungarian musician working aboard, who a fellow musician said helped crying children into lifejackets, then disappeared while trying to retrieve his beloved violin from his cabin. His body was found inside the wreck and identified by his mother who traveled to Italy, according to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry.

Of the 11 dead and 21 missing, Italian officials have only released 27 names so far. They are two Americans, 12 Germans, six Italians, four French, and one person each from Hungary, India and Peru.

Among the missing are an Italian father and 5-year-old daughter. The girl's mother issued a fresh appeal to speed the search and for passengers who saw the pair to come forward to help determine where they were last seen.

"Don't stop, bring home my daughter. Get her out," Susy Albertini, 28, said on Italian television Wednesday evening after meeting with government and port officials in Tuscany.

Albertini last saw her daughter, Dayana Arlotti, on Thursday when she dropped her off at nursery school in Rimini on Italy's Adriadic coast, according to La Voce di Romagna newspaper. Her estranged husband picked up the girl afterward to prepare for the cruise.

William Arlotti, 36, had taken his daughter on on the cruise with his girlfriend, Michela Marconcelli, who survived. She reported seeing Dayana, who was wearing a lifejacket, slide into the water when the boat shifted, but said someone helped retrieve her, the newspaper reported.

Marconcelli said she was pushed forward onto the life raft, and lost track of her companion and his daughter.

Other missing include retirees Jerry and Barbara Heil of White Bear Lake, Minn. The couple were treating themselves after putting four children through college.

The Heil children said in a blog post Wednesday that their parents were not among the passengers whose bodies were recently recovered, and they were praying that weather conditions would improve so authorities could resume search operations.

Capt. Francesco Schettino, who was jailed after he left the ship before everyone was safely evacuated, was placed under house arrest Tuesday, facing possible charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his ship.

The ship's operator, Crociere Costa SpA, has accused Schettino of causing the wreck by making the unapproved detour, and the captain has acknowledged carrying out what he called a "tourist navigation" that brought the ship closer to Giglio. Costa has said such a navigational "fly by" was done last Aug. 9-10, after being approved by the company and Giglio port authorities.

However, Lloyd's List Intelligence, a leading maritime publication, said Wednesday its tracking of the ship's August route showed it actually took the Concordia slightly closer to Giglio than the course that caused Friday's disaster.

"This is not a black-and-white case," Richard Meade, editor of Lloyd's List, said in a statement.

"Our data suggests that both routes took the vessel within 200 meters (yards) of the impact point and that the authorized route was actually closer to shore."

New audio of Schettino's communications with the coast guard during the crisis emerged Wednesday, with the captain claiming he ended up in a life raft after he tripped and fell into the water.

"I did not abandon a ship with 100 people on board, the ship suddenly listed and we were thrown into the water," Schettino said, according to a transcript published Wednesday in the Corriere della Sera paper.

Initial audio of Schettino's conversations made headlines on Tuesday, showing an increasingly exasperated coast guard officer ordering Schettino back on board to direct the evacuation, and the captain resisting, saying it was too dark and the ship was tipping.

The officer's order, "Get back on board, (expletive!)" has entered the Italian lexicon, becoming a Twitter hashtag and adorning T-shirts.

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