17th body found in Costa Concordia wreck

Monday 30 January 2012 12.28
A bench from the cruise liner Costa Concordia lying aground on the island of Giglio
A bench from the cruise liner Costa Concordia lying aground on the island of Giglio

Divers have found a 17th body in the wrecked cruise ship Costa Concordia in Italy, leaving 15 people still missing.

Italy's civil defence organisation said the woman's body had been located on deck six, in the submerged part of the vessel.

The Costa Concordia ran aground on 13 January on rocks with some 4,200 people aboard and is lying on its side off the Tuscan island of Giglio.

Of the 17 bodies found, 14 have been identified.

Salvage of the capsized cruise ship was scheduled to begin this weekend in Italy.

The recovery of hundreds of tonnes of fuel from the ship has already been delayed several times and there have been fears that oil might leak and pollute the pristine waters around the island of Giglio.

The Dutch firm that will carry out the operation said it was ready to start today, but the Italian authorities said it will get under way tomorrow, blaming weather conditions for the delay.

Once the work starts it could take up to four weeks to empty all the oil from the ship's numerous tanks.

Meanwhile, Costa Cruises has offered €11,000 in compensation to each of the more than 3,000 passengers aboard its liner that ran aground and capsized off the island of Giglio two weeks ago today.

Each passenger on the Costa Concordia will also receive a refund on the cruise and the costs of their return home.

The offer applies to all passengers, whether child or adult, who suffered no physical injuries.

Injured passengers will be dealt with individually.

The ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, is under house arrest and is blamed for causing the accident by steering too close to the island's shore.

Costa Cruises' US parent company Carnival Plc is already facing legal action for compensation.

Those accepting offer from the company will have to agree to drop all future litigation, and receive payment within seven days.

Codacons, a consumer group which did not participate in the negotiations, is collecting names for a class action suit to be filed in Miami requesting €125,000 for each passenger.