Italians end search for survivors on crippled cruise ship
More than two weeks after the Costa Concordia struck a reef off the Tuscan coast, Italian officials have given up on finding anyone alive in the wreckage of the cruise ship, according to media reports Tuesday.
Italy's Civil Protection Agency said technical studies indicated that there were too many safety concerns to risk the lives of searchers working in the deformed hull of the ship, the Associated Press reported.
Seventeen bodies had been found as of Monday, including one not yet identified. Sixteen people, including a Minnesota couple, are still listed as missing.
The shipwreck stunned Italians and people around the world, who were boggled by how a simple cruise could go so wrong.
Captain Francesco Schettino has acknowledged bringing the 1,000-foot-long floating city startlingly close to the craggy coast of the island of Giglio. He has been charged with manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship; he insists that after he hit the rocks, he turned the ship to facilitate a rescue.
The captain remains under house arrest.
Perhaps the most embarrassing revelation came in a transcript of a radio conversation between Schettino and a Coast Guard officer soon after the wreck, with the official ordering the captain back aboard his ship after he had left with hundreds of passengers still trying the flee the crippled vessel.
"Get back on board, damn it!" the officer, Gregorio De Falco, demands of Schettino at one point.
Schettino isn't the only one in trouble in the wake of the stunning wreck. The disaster has also put a cloud over the cruise industry, which was in the process of recovering from the 2008 economic bust.
-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles
Photo: An Italian firefighter is lowered from an helicopter to the grounded cruise ship Costa Concordia on Tuesday. Credit: Pier Paolo Cito / Associated Press