Turbid waters around cruise ship searched

2012-01-15 20:18

Giglio - A crimson slipper, a spent yellow flare, a muddied white vest - the few things left on the rocky shores of Giglio Island after a luxury liner crashed this weekend with over 4 000 on board.

Three dinghies with coast guard and army divers could be seen working around the half-submerged cruise ship until dusk.

"There's virtually no visibility down there. Everything that can float is floating around. The carpets, the furniture. It's chaos," Daniele, an army diver who said he was not authorised to give interviews, told AFP.

"When we come across life vests we think they might be bodies. That's how difficult it is. It's dangerous too. We can hear the ship creaking underwater and we're afraid it could slip into the open sea and sink," he said.

The coast guard divers found two bodies floating inside an assembly point outside one of the ship's kitchens on Sunday after breaking into the restaurant through its glass roof and swimming through turbid, junk-strewn waters.

"I'm afraid that we could find others," Angelo Scarpa, 24, one of the two divers who recovered the bodies, told AFP after coming back on shore.

"They were wearing life vests that we had to cut off to pull them out. All the furniture from the restaurant was floating around in there. One of the bodies had a neck chain and we found a wallet on the other one," he said.

"We're going to concentrate on that area in our search because people were just sitting down for dinner when the accident happened," said Scarpa, a well-built ginger-haired man who joined the coast guards 14 years ago.

"I feel sad, resigned but this is my job," he added.

Precarious

The ship creaked ominously as the divers worked. A fridge and an upturned table could be seen bobbing up and down in the sea nearby.

Deckchairs could be seen in a chaotic jumble on the top deck, alongside plush and brightly painted swimming pools with no water in.

As he took off his wetsuit after diving, Alessio Anguilles, a diver from a private subcontractor, said he had been checking the stability of the giant luxury liner and the possibility for eventually moving it.

He explained that the ship was currently on a rocky bed in around 20m of water but was close to a sharp drop into waters of more than 70m which would sink the half-submerged ship entirely.

"We are studying with a Dutch company to see whether the ship can be taken away or cut up on site. We checked to see what it was resting on and to see if cables can be passed around it," he said.

"The situation is quite precarious. It could go down," he said.

Read more on:    costa  |  italy  |  maritime  |  cruise liner disaster

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