Costa Concordia: Two more bodies found in Italian ship

BBC's Bethany Bell: "Teams of divers are going into the parts of the ship that are underwater"

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Emergency teams have found two more bodies in the partially submerged Costa Concordia cruise liner that sank off the western coast of Italy.

It brings to five those known to have died after the ship, carrying more than 4,000 people, hit rocks on Friday.

The coastguard said divers had found the bodies of two unidentified elderly men trapped in a flooded area.

Earlier three survivors were found, more than 24 hours after the ship ran aground near a Tuscan island.

Coastguard spokesman Filipino Marin said the two elderly victims were "found on the third floor in a meeting area section of the ship".

Capt Francesco Schettino: "We were last to leave the ship''

He said the bodies were being taken to the mainland for identification.

Shortly before they were recovered, Tuscan regional official Enrich Rossi said 17 people remained unaccounted for.

The ship's operator, Costa Crociere, said the vessel had been following its regular course on the first day of a Mediterranean cruise when it hit a submerged rock.

Police are investigating why the accident happened in calm conditions, a few hundred metres from the island of Giglio.

Start Quote

There was panic, like in a film, dishes crashing to the floor, people running, people falling down the stairs”

End Quote Fulvio Rocci Survivor

Officers began questioning the ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, on Saturday.

The chief prosecutor in the city of Grosseto told reporters that the vessel had "very ineptly got close to Giglio".

But Capt Schettino told Italian TV that the rock was not marked on his nautical chart.

"We should have had deep water beneath us... We were about 300 metres (1,000ft) from the rocks more or less. We shouldn't have hit anything."

He also also denied claims by prosecutors that he left the Costa Concordia before evacuation was complete. "We were the last to leave the ship," he said.

Capt Schettino, 52, has worked for Costa Cruises for 11 years. First officer Ciro Ambrosio has also been detained.

Officials and environmentalists have expressed concern that the ship's fuel, at full load at the start of the cruise, could spill into the sea.

Dazed survivors

Throughout Sunday, teams of divers have been descending into the wreck, searching some of the hundreds of submerged cabins and other rooms.

Teams working above the waterline were able to rescue an Italian man - a senior member of the ship's crew - who had suffered a severe leg injury.

Italian divers approach the cruise ship Costa Concordia leaning on its side, 15 January Italian coastguard divers are continuing to scour the ship

He was placed on a stretcher and winched up to a rescue helicopter, to be taken to hospital on the mainland.

He was the third survivor to be found on Sunday. In the early hours, a Korean couple, who were on their honeymoon, were found trapped in a cabin.

They were brought ashore, dazed but unhurt.

'Loud noise'

Divers are continuing to search the ship, which is lying on its side near Giglio.

Start Quote

A helicopter flies overhead, hovers a moment, and two more rescuers are winched down on to what used to be the side of the ship. It is now its gently sloping upper deck. ”

End Quote

On Saturday, officials said two French passengers and a Peruvian crew member had died and another 30 people were injured.

Italian, German, French and British nationals were among the 3,200 passengers on board. There were also 1,000 crew.

On Sunday morning, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague told Sky News all the Britons - 23 passengers and 12 crew - were now safe and accounted for.

The president of Costa Cruises, Gianni Onorato, said the company would "be working in full transparency with Italian authorities" to understand the causes of the disaster.

Mr Onorato said normal lifeboat evacuation had become "almost impossible" because the ship had listed so quickly. Some passengers had to swim ashore.

Many survivors have been taken by ferry from Giglio to Porta San Stefano, about 25km (15 miles) away on the mainland.

South Korean man is brought ashore after being rescued from Costa Concordia, 15 Jan 2012 The South Korean man was brought ashore on a rescue boat, after being found with his wife

The BBC's Alan Johnson at the scene says many arrived there still wrapped in blankets, and some were clearly shaken.

Passenger Luciano Castro told Ansa news agency: "We heard a loud noise while we were at dinner as if the keel of the ship hit something."

"The ship started taking in water through the hole and began tilting."

Some passengers told the Associated Press news agency that the crew had failed to give instructions on how to evacuate the ship.

Several passengers compared the accident to the film Titanic, about the sinking of the giant ocean liner in April 1912 which claimed more than 1,500 lives.

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