Salvage crews expect to begin pumping thousands of tonnes of fuel from the wrecked Costa Concordia by Saturday.

Preparations have begun on the complex task of extracting more than 2,300 tonnes of diesel oil from the giant liner's 17 fuel tanks with divers beginning the work of installing external fuel tanks to hold the oil pumped out.

Divers today found a 16th body on the giant Italian cruise liner, which capsized off the Tuscan coast over a week ago.

At least 16 more people are missing on the 290-metre long vessel, which lies half-submerged on its side just outside the tiny island port of Giglio.

Nine victims have been identified and the identities of seven others are so far unknown.

Authorities have been increasingly concerned at the threat of an oil spill in the marine reserve where the accident occurred but work on removing diesel and lubricating oil has been delayed by the search for survivors and bodies.

Preparations to begin pumping the oil are expected to take several days and the actual work of removing the fuel from the giant liner's 17 fuel tanks will take another 28 days.

Officials dismissed reports that oil had started to leak out of the ship, saying that monitoring equipment had shown no significant pollution spreading from the wreck. A thin film of oil had spread in the water but posed no serious threat.