Four more bodies found in shipwrecked Costa Concordia
REPORTING FROM ROME -- Divers searching the shipwrecked Costa Concordia lying off Italy's Tuscan coast Wednesday found four more bodies in a submerged part of the cruise vessel, authorities said.
One of the bodies found on the fourth deck of the ship was that of 5-year-old Dayana Arlotti, the youngest victim found, a spokeswoman for the Civil Protection Agency said.
The discovery of the four bodies brings to 21 the number of people confirmed dead in the Jan. 13 accident that occurred when the Costa Concordia sailed too close to the island of Giglio, slamming into rocks that tore a huge gash in its hull.
Eleven of the approximately 4,200 passengers and crew on board for a Mediterranean cruise remain unaccounted for, the Civil Protection Agency said.
The four bodies discovered early Wednesday afternoon were in an area of the ship where survivors had told authorities those who weren't able to escape the sinking vessel might have been trapped, the Civil Protection Agency spokeswoman said.
A special platform was built so that divers could retrieve the bodies quickly and spend as little time in the water as possible, the spokeswoman explained by telephone.
The ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, remains under house arrest, accused of causing the shipwreck by steering the vessel dangerously close to shore and of abandoning the ship in the middle of a chaotic evacuation before all the passengers were safe.
Prosecutors from the coastal town of Grosseto have been interviewing passengers, crew, maritime authorities on the ground, managers of the cruise ship company Costa Crociere and others to try to determine the dynamics of and responsibility for the shipwreck of the nearly 300-yard long vessel.
The Civil Protection Agency said about two-thirds of the nearly half-million gallons of fuel aboard the ship had been safely removed and that the operation would continue. Constant monitoring of the delicate marine environment surrounding the ship has not turned up signs of serious pollution, the agency's spokeswoman said.
The ship is in a "relatively stable" position on a rocky ledge close to the coast of Giglio, she said.
-- Sarah Delaney
Photo: Firefighters in the port of Giglio Island get ready to go out Wednesday to the shipwrecked Costa Concordia cruise liner, where four more bodies were discovered. Credit: Enzo Russo / EPA