Rescue operations have resumed in Italy, in hopes of finding those still missing after a cruise ship capsized Friday night. The operations had been suspended for several hours after the vessel shifted today in rough seas.
Just beyond where the gashed ship lies, off the island of Giglio, the seabed drops off quickly by some 65-100 feet. If the Concordia suddenly drops, any divers participating in the rescue operation could be doomed.
There are also increasing concerns that any further movement of the wreck could cause some of the 500,000 gallons of fuel on board to leak into the pristine waters off Giglio. The waters are a protected dolphin sanctuary.
The confirmed death toll rose to six after searchers found the body of a male passenger wearing a life vest in the corridor of the above-water portion of the ship.
The number of people believed missing jumped from 16 to 29 Monday. A top coast guard official, Marco Brusco, said on state TV that 25 passengers and four crew members are unaccounted for three days after the ship crashed into a reef off the Tuscan coast and capsized. Earlier in the day that number stood at 16.
Chances that they would be found alive three days after the ship was speared by the reef and toppled to one side are growing slimmer.
Among those unaccounted for are two Americans, identified as Gerald and Barbara Heil of White Bear Lake, Minn.
The chairman and CEO of the cruise line said the captain made an unauthorized change-of-course that led to the deadly crash against a reef.
The captain, Francesco Schettino, has been detained by police and is being investigated for manslaughter, abandoning the ship and causing a shipwreck. Passengers say he made his way to safety before everyone on board had been evacuated, and the Italian coast guard says he rejected their efforts to get him to return to the ship.
The ship's tilt made many of the life rafts useless, and helicopters had to rescue dozens of people still on board.
Prosecutors who are investigating the captain for manslaughter, abandoning ship and causing a shipwreck stepped up their scathing criticism of his conduct.
"We are struck by the unscrupulousness of the reckless maneuver that the commander of the Costa Concordia made near the island of Giglio," prosecutor Francesco Verusio told reporters. "It was inexcusable."
A judge on Tuesday is expected to decide if the captain should be charged and remain jailed in Grosseto on the mainland.
Costa Crociere SpA chairman and CEO Pier Luigi Foschi said the company would provide him legal assistance, but he disassociated Costa from his behavior, saying it broke all rules and regulations.
"Capt. Schettino took an initiative of his own will which is contrary to our written rules of conduct," Foschi said in his first public comments since the grounding.
At a news conference in Genoa, the company's home base, Foschi said that Costa ships have their routes programmed, and alarms go off when they deviate. Those alarms are disabled if the ship's course is manually altered, he said.
"This route was put in correctly upon departure from Civitavecchia," Foschi said, referring to the port outside Rome. "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."