Costa Concordia: More human remains found in ship

Costa Concordia divers say they've recovered more human remains, after recovering two bodies last week. Last year, the Costa Concordia cruise ship sank off the Italian island of Giglio.

By , Reuters

Divers have recovered what could be more human remains from the sea where the Costa Concordia cruise liner sank last year off the Italian island of Giglio, the head of Italy's civil protection agency said on Wednesday.

The agency said last week it had found remains that could belong to the last two missing victims from the disaster on January 13, 2012, when the ship capsized after striking rocks, killing 32 people.

"Other remains have also been found and are currently undergoing DNA tests," the agency's chief Franco Gabrielli told reporters on Wednesday. "We are waiting for the results of the analysis," he said.

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The head of the civil protection agency, Franco Gabrielli, told reporters the remains discovered last week were "absolutely consistent" with the two missing people - an Indian man and an Italian woman.
However, their identities could be confirmed only after DNA testing, he said.

After lying on its side in shallow water ever since capsizing, the Costa Concordia was hauled upright last week in a complicated 19-hour salvage operation.

Recovering the human remains after 20 months under the weight of the 114,500 tonne vessel was "almost a miracle," Gabrielli said. A spokeswmoman for the civil protection agency all that was left of the bodies were bone fragments.

The ship is due to be towed away from the Mediterranean holiday island, probably by next spring, and eventually broken up into scrap.

Last week, an Italian court called for a new expert examination of the Costa Concordia cruise liner to seek further evidence related to its sinking, accepting a request from the lawyers of the ship's captain and civil parties.

Two weeks ago, the Concordia was raised off the rocks where it capsized, opening the way for a new quest for clues.

The Concordia's skipper, Francesco Schettino, has been charged with offences including manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship after the 290-metre vesse struck a reef off the island of Giglio and keeled over with the loss of 32 lives on Jan. 13, 2012.

The court in Grosseto, Tuscany, wants experts to pay particular attention to the electrical system of the lifts on the vessel, a legal source told Reuters.

Lawyers for Schettino say emergency generators failed to kick in during the disaster, preventing the lifts from working.

The court has also agreed to further checks on other aspects such as the ship's watertight doors, once the safety of the investigators can be guaranteed.

The 114,500-tonne vessel now sits, upright but two-thirds submerged, on specially constructed platforms just off Giglio while salvage crews prepare for it to be towed away next year to be broken up.

Schettino has admitted that he bears responsibility for the accident as the ship's captain. But he says he is not the only culprit and wants the vessel to be examined for evidence of technical faults that may have contributed to the deaths of the victims.

The call for a new search was backed by other parties including the consumer group Codacons, which is a civil party to the case.

Schettino is the only person on trial after four crew members and an official of the ship's operator, Costa Cruises, were sentenced to terms of up to 34 months in prison after pleading guilty last year.

Costa Cruises, owned by the American-based Carnival Corp , the world's largest cruise operator, itself avoided criminal prosecution by agreeing to pay a 1 million euro ($1.35 million) fine last year. Victims are now seeking damages in a civil case.
The court has been adjourned until Oct. 7.

(Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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