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Official: Would take miracle for cruise survivors

GIGLIO, Italy - The official overseeing the search effort of the capsized Costa Concordia has acknowledged it would take a miracle to find any survivors from the Jan. 13 cruise ship grounding.

Franco Gabrielli, head of the national civil protection agency, told reporters Wednesday that recovery operations would nevertheless continue until the ship, which is half-submerged off the Tuscan island of Giglio, was searched as much as possible.

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Divers have set off two controlled explosions on the toppled Costa Concordia cruise ship as rescue operations resumed following a brief halt during the night because of bad weather.

Workers also kept up preparations to remove a half-million gallons of fuel from the ship before it leaks into the Tuscan sea. Pumping is expected to begin Saturday, in conjunction with search and rescue efforts. An initial six tanks will be tapped.

Spokesman Martin Schuttevaer said "based on what we have seen the position of the tanks are in line with what we expected."

The Concordia ran aground and capsized off the island of Giglio on Jan. 13 after the captain veered from his approved course and gashed the ship's hull on a reef, forcing the panicked evacuation of 4,200 passengers and crew.

Rescuers have found 16 bodies, with 17 people are still unaccounted for. The latest body was found on the third floor deck on Tuesday.

Costa is a unit of Miami-based Carnival Corp., the world's biggest cruise operator.

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