12th body found as Italian cruise ship rescue resumes

Courtesy of CNN

Divers resumed their search for survivors from the Italian cruise ship Saturday, as concerns grow over the potential environmental threat posed by the wreck.

A 12th body was found within the ship Saturday afternoon, Italian authorities confirmed, with at least 20 people still missing since the Costa Concordia ran aground off the island of Giglio last week.

The body of a woman wearing a life jacket was discovered in an area of the ship that was under water, said Francesca Maffini, spokeswoman for Franco Gabrielli, now in charge of operations at the site.

A committee made up of all the parties involved in the rescue operation told a briefing for reporters and villagers on the island Saturday that search and rescue efforts will continue -- but that the environmental risk is also becoming urgent.

Officials said they cannot predict how long it will take to clear the wreckage, since that depends on maritime conditions and technical difficulties, but that all legal, environmental and human factors will be taken into account.

"It's time for Italy to show it can do something right and do it well," said the head of the committee, Franco Gabrielli.

Gabrielli, who leads Italy's civil protection agency, warned that the task ahead was complicated and daunting, not least because it takes about 45 minutes to search each cabin, using special cameras and divers.

The giant Costa Concordia had 1,500 cabins on board. In video from the ship that emerged Friday, a crew member in a life jacket can be heard urging passengers to go back to their cabins, saying the "electrical problem" has been fixed and that "everything is under control."

Gabrielli said no fuel oil had yet leaked from the ship -- only kitchen and engine oil -- and that he did not see an immediate risk of the 2,400 tons on board escaping.

A plan to remove the fuel oil has now been approved, he said, and will begin once experts give the go-ahead.

Booms have been put in place around the ship to try to stop the spread not just of oil but of many other pollutants, from detergents to sewage chemicals. With 4,000 people aboard, the ship was the size of a small town, Gabrielli added.

Adm. Ilarione Dell'Anna, head of coastal authorities for the port city of Livorno, said fuel will be replaced with water as it is removed from the ship's tanks, to keep the ship balanced.

Gabrielli said Costa, the company that owns the cruise ship, was being very cooperative and was proving responsible, despite past errors.

He is to meet the prosecutor who has filed charges against Capt. Francesco Schettino Monday, he said.

The underwater search for survivors resumed Friday night, hours after divers suspended operations due to shifting of the cruise ship.

"We searched all night in the part of the vessel above water," coast guard Capt. Filippo Marini said Saturday. "Early this morning, we had two more explosions (by navy experts) to open more holes in (the) ship. This to accelerate search operations of our divers."

Marini described weather conditions Saturday on Giglio island as "excellent."

Authorities are considering the possibility of attempting to anchor the vessel to the rocks off Giglio island using chains. But "it's very difficult. The Concordia weighs 110,000 tons, and it's like a 300-meter-high skyscraper in an horizontal position," said Massimo Maccheroni of the Italian coast guard's general command.

The Italian government announced a state of emergency Friday and set out a plan to defend against potential oil pollution and proposals for the removal of the wreck.

Both the Costa Cruises and authorities have criticized Schettino, who is under house arrest and faces possible charges of manslaughter, shipwreck and abandoning ship.