Costa Concordia: Remains found near wreck

This time-lapse footage shows the operation to right the Costa Concordia

Italian officials overseeing the continuing search for bodies around the wreck of the Costa Concordia say unidentified remains have been found.

Two people have been unaccounted for since the night the ship sank off the Italian shore in a disaster which claimed the lives of 30 other people.

The 290m (951 ft) vessel was raised upright last week in a major salvage operation off Giglio island.

Its captain is on trial over the disaster in January of last year.

Francesco Schettino is accused of manslaughter, causing the shipwreck and abandoning ship, but says he is being made a scapegoat for others' errors.

Map showing the route of the Costa Concordia on a previous trip and on the day of the collision.

"During a search in the water near the central part of the ship, coast guard and police divers found remains which still have to be identified with DNA," Italy's civil protection agency said in a statement on Thursday.

The agency's head, Franco Gabrielli, reaffirmed that further tests were needed but told reporters the remains were "absolutely consistent" with the two missing people, said Reuters news agency.

Recovering the remains after 20 months under the weight of the cruise ship was "almost a miracle," Mr Gabrielli said.

An Indian waiter, Russel Rebello, and Italian passenger Maria Grazia Trecarichi were reported missing, presumed dead, after the disaster.

It was thought that perhaps they had been trapped beneath the ship and the rocks, the BBC's Alan Johnston reports from Rome.

Divers found remains lying just outside the hull on the seabed. They still have not been brought ashore, and the process of running DNA identification tests is yet to begin.

But relatives of the two missing people have been informed of the find.

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