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Europe

Human remains found on righted Costa Concordia

© Photo: AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-09-26

Italian divers looking for the bodies of two people who died during last year's Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster found human remains “absolutely consistent” with the missing pair on Thursday. Thirty other bodies were salvaged after the tragedy.

Divers on Thursday found what they believe to be the last two missing bodies where the Costa Concordia cruise liner sank last year off the Italian island of Giglio.

The huge ship was carrying more than 4,000 holidaymakers and crew when it capsized after striking rocks on January 13, 2012, killing 32 people.

Thirty bodies were recovered from the wreck after the tragedy but Italian passenger Maria Grazia Trecarichi and Indian waiter Russel Rebello were never found.

The head of the civil protection agency Franco Gabrielli told SkyTG24 news channel the remains discovered on Thursday were “absolutely consistent” with the two missing people.

The search for the bodies began earlier this week after the 114,500-tonne ship was hauled upright in the biggest salvage operation of its kind.

Recovering the submerged bodies after 20 months under the weight of the vessel was “almost a miracle,” Gabrielli said, adding that the relatives of the two victims had been notified.

The remains, which will now undergo DNA testing, were spotted in the sea near the central part of the ship, where survivors had said the two were last seen.

‘Emergency generators failed’

The hulk of the Concordia is due to be towed away from the Mediterranean holiday island of Giglio, probably by next spring, and eventually broken up into scrap.

The Costa Concordia crashed into a group of rocks just off the tiny island with 4,229 people from 70 countries on board.

The ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, is on trial for multiple manslaughter, abandoning ship before all the passengers had been evacuated and causing environmental damage.

On Tuesday, an Italian court called for a new expert examination of the shipwreck to seek further evidence related to its sinking, accepting a request from the lawyers of the ship’s captain and civil parties.

The court in Grosseto, Tuscany, wants experts to pay particular attention to the electrical system of the lifts on the vessel, a legal source told Reuters.

Lawyers for Schettino say emergency generators failed to kick in during the disaster, preventing the lifts from working.

The court has agreed to further checks on other aspects such as the ship’s watertight doors, once the safety of the investigators can be guaranteed.

Costa Cruises, owned by the American-based Carnival Corp, the world’s largest cruise operator, itself avoided criminal prosecution by agreeing to pay a one million euro ($1.35 million) fine last year. Victims are now seeking damages in a civil case.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-09-26

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