Authorities in Italy suspended search operations today after the rough seas apparently shifted the grounded Costa Concordia cruise ship.
“As a precautionary measure, we stopped the operations this morning, in order to verify the data we retrieved from our detectors, and understand if there actually was a movement, and if there has been one, how big this was,” Coast Guard Cmdr. Filippo Marini told the Associated Press.
It is unclear when divers will be able to resume their search of the partially submerged cruise liner.
Divers found five more bodies Tuesday, bringing the death toll to 11. The bodies were found at the ship’s stern, which was underwater.
More than two dozen people remain missing, including Minnesota couple Jerry and Barbara Heil.
Officials had planned to search the wreckage as a salvage company prepared to pump the millions of gallons of fuel from the ship, a process that could take weeks, the New York Times reported.
Focus on Ship’s Captain
A media frenzy developed overnight at the home of captain Francesco Schettino, with crowds watching as he returned to serve his house arrest.
Schettino could face criminal charges, including manslaughter and abandoning ship.
Genoa-based Costa Cruises, which operates more than a dozen Italian-flagged ships, is controlled by Carnival Corp. of Miami.
The company released a statement Tuesday, saying, “We are deeply saddened by the reports of additional deaths following the grounding of the Costa Concordia. On behalf of the entire Carnival Corporation & plc team, [we] … offer our heartfelt condolences to all of those families affected by this tragedy.”
Audio tapes released Tuesday captured a conversation between Schettino and Coast Guard officials.
On it, coast guard captain Gregorio Defalco shouts at the captain, ordering him back on the ship.
“Captain, this is an order, now I am in charge. Get back on that ship and coordinate the operations. There are already casualties,” the port authority official told Schettino.
But Schettino resists and later offers reasons why he won’t get back on the ship.
“You do realize it’s dark here and we can’t see anything?,” he said.
The coast guard official yells back, “and so what? You want to go home, schettino? It’s dark and you want to go home? Get on the boat ? and tell me what can be done…. Now!”
Schettino’s wife believes the call doesn’t tell the whole story. “The many people who know him well testified that he was absolutely dedicated to his job and was a professional,” she said in a statement.
But crew member Sandra Villalon said it was clear the situation wasn’t under control.
Villalon said she didn’t hear the captain say abandon ship.
“When I listen, it was the alarm of general emergency. Seven short blasts followed by one long blast,” she said.
Survivor Alex Beach, back home in New Mexico, described the chaotic scene.
“My lasting memory will be of those who were standing on the deck with their life jackets on waiting to be rescued and there were no more boats,” Beach said.
Survivor Valerie Ananias said people were screaming as they tried to get off the sinking ship
“There was complete chaos. It really was like the Titanic,” Ananias said. ABC News’ Chris Cuomo, Phoebe Natanson, Clark Bentson, Sharde Miller, Andreena Narayan and ABC News Radio contributed to this report.
Source : Yahoo.com