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Third survivor rescued from capsized cruise ship

Authorities in Italy are holding the captain of the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise ship for abandoning the boat before all passengers had escaped. 

By Gregorio Borgia and Nicole WinfieldAssociated Press / January 15, 2012

The capsized ship on Sunday.

Gregorio Borgia/AP


Giglio, Italy

A helicopter on Sunday airlifted a third survivor from the capsized hulk of a luxury cruise liner 36 hours after it ran aground off the Tuscan coast, as prosecutors said they were investigating the captain for manslaughter and accused him of abandoning his ship.

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Authorities reduced to 17 from 40 the number of people still unaccounted for, with an Italian who worked in cabin service pulled from the wreckage of the Costa Concordia off the tiny island of Grigio. A South Korean couple on their honeymoon were rescued late Saturday in the unsubmerged part of the liner when firefighters heard their screams.

Three people are confirmed dead after the huge cruise ship carrying more than 4,200 people ran aground on Friday night, forcing a chaotic evacuation. There are now six crew members and 11 passengers who haven't been located, Tuscany's regional president Enrico Rossi said.

IN PICTURES: Costa Concordia runs aground

Authorities were holding the captain for suspected manslaughter among other possible charges and a prosecutor on Sunday confirmed allegations that the captain abandoned the stricken liner before all the passengers had escaped, which would be a criminal offense.

Asked Sunday by Sky Italia TV about the accusations, Grosseto prosecutor Francesco Verusio replied, "unfortunately, I must confirm that circumstance."

Witnesses: captain fled early

A French couple who boarded the Concordia in Marseille, Ophelie Gondelle and David Du Pays of Marseille, told the AP they saw the captain in a lifeboat, covered by a blanket, well before all the passengers were off the ship. They insisted on telling a reporter what they saw, so incensed that — according to them — the captain had left the ship before everyone had been evacuated.

"The commander left before and was on the dock before everyone was off," said Gondelle, 28, a French military officer.

"Normally the commander should leave at the end," said Du Pays, a police officer who said he helped an injured passenger to a rescue boat. "I did what I could."

Police divers and rescue crews on Sunday circled the wreckage. Crews in dinghies touched the hull with their hands, near the site of the 160-foot-long (50-meter-long) gash where water flooded in and caused the ship to fall on its side.

Coast guard officials have said divers would enter the belly of the ship in case anyone is still inside.

Black box recovered

Coast guard spokesman Capt. Filippo Marini told Sky Italia TV that Coast Guard divers have recovered the so-called "black box" with the recording of the navigational details from a compartment now under water.

Late Saturday, firefighters who had been searching the Costa Concordia for those who remain missing heard distinct shouts, "one in a male voice, the other in a female voice" coming from the cruise liner, Coast Guard officer Marcello Fertitta said.

They turned out to be the honeymooning South Korean couple, who were brought out in good condition, Prato fire Cmdr. Vincenzo Bennardo told The Associated Press from the scene.

Evacuation problems

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