Costa Concordia search operation resumes

The search had been suspended for much of Friday - video courtesy Italian fire brigade and police

The rescue operation aboard the Costa Concordia has resumed after bad weather caused a delay of several hours.

Rescuers were forced to stop work when choppy conditions threatened to shift the wreck off its rocky perch into deeper water.

It was the third time the operation had been called off since the ship ran aground off Italy's coast a week ago.

Hopes are fading for the 21 people still missing. Eleven are known to have died.

"The ship has stabilised and the search on the upper part of the vessel is resuming," Italian navy spokesman Alessandro Busonero told AFP news agency on Friday.

Coastguard spokesman Cosimo Nicastro said divers would assess conditions in the submerged part of the ship on Saturday.

He said the search would focus on the third deck where the luxury cruise ship's lifeboats were.

'Return to cabins'

List of dead and missing

  • Confirmed dead: Sandor Feher, Hungary, crew; French nationals Pierre Gregoire, Jeanne Gannard, Jean-Pierre Micheaud, Francis Servil, passengers; Italian Giovanni Masia, passenger; Spaniard Guillermo Gual, passenger; Peruvian Thomas Alberto Costilla Mendoza, crew.
  • Missing: 21 people plus three unidentified bodies. Nationalities as follows: 12 Germans, six Italians (including one crew member), two French, two Americans, one Peruvian (crew), one Indian (crew)

Earlier, video emerged showing the crew of the stricken vessel assuring passengers nothing was wrong.

In the amateur footage, a crew member says "everything is under control" and asks passengers to go to their cabins despite the fact that the cruise ship had begun taking in water.

It is thought the delay in deciding to abandon ship may have cost lives.

A female crew member is heard telling passengers: "We kindly ask you to return to your cabins, or go for a walk in the hall, if you like."

She says she is relaying a message from the commander.

"We'll resolve the electrical problem that we have with the generator. Everything will be fine. If you want to stand here, it's fine.

"But I'm kindly asking you to go back to your rooms, where you'll be seated and tranquil. Everything is under control."

Captain's tears

Meanwhile, more accounts of the dramatic moments after the ship hit rocks off the tiny island of Giglio have been emerging.

Catholic chaplain Raffaele Malena told the French magazine Famille Chretienne how the ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, had cried in his arms once ashore.

"At around 2:30am I spoke to the captain. He embraced me and cried like a baby for about a quarter of an hour," he said.

Crew member and on-board entertainer Giovanni Lazzarini also told Corriere della Sera newspaper how he dressed in superhero costumes to reassure worried children after the initial impact.

Capt Schettino is under house arrest on suspicion of multiple manslaughter. The owners say he was sailing too close to Giglio on an unauthorised course.

Prosecutors have also accused him of fleeing the ship before evacuation was complete. He denies the accusations.

The company that owns the ship, Costa Cruises, has suspended Capt Schettino and withdrawn an offer to pay his legal costs, according to reports.

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