Weather key to resuming search of capsized Italy liner

A view of the Costa Concordia cruise ship that ran aground off the west coast of Italy, at Giglio island, January 18, 2012. REUTERS/ Max Rossi

GIGLIO, Italy |
Wed Jan 18, 2012 7:08pm EST

(Reuters) – Divers searching a capsized Italian cruiseliner were hoping for calm seas on Thursday after the ship shifted precariously on a rocky ledge, delaying plans to remove oil from the vessel to prevent a possible environmental disaster.

Five days after the Costa Concordia struck a rock and capsized off the picturesque Tuscan island of Giglio, hopes of finding anyone alive have faded and salvage experts are preparing to pump 2,300 tons of fuel from the hulk.

Weather conditions, which have been largely good since the 114,500 ton vessel ran aground, are forecast to worsen over coming days, making the ship even more unstable and complicating the search for survivors and bodies.

Eleven people are confirmed dead and 22 are still missing from more than 4,200 passengers and crew who were onboard when the Concordia foundered on Friday evening, two hours into a week-long cruise of the western Mediterranean.

The search was suspended all day on Wednesday after the ship slipped by some 1.5 meters, the second such suspension since rescue attempts began. As darkness fell, a spokesman said the Concordia had stabilized but it was unclear if the search would resume before daylight on Thursday.

Environment Minister Corrado Clini told parliament there was a risk that with sea conditions expected to worsen, the ship could slip down 50 to 90 meters from the reef it is resting on, further damaging the vessel and creating a major hazard to the environment in one of Europe’s largest natural marine parks.

(more of the article)