Three survivors and two more dead bodies were pulled from the partially submerged wreck of a cruise liner off the Italian coast, while a search continued though thousands of cabins for 15 people still missing.
In the early hours of Monday, the massive 114,500 tonne Costa Concordia wallowed on its side only metres from the picturesque Tuscan port of Giglio, with rescuers continuing a painstaking search for survivors or bodies.
The 290-metre long vessel, a multistorey floating resort carrying 4,229 passengers and crew, foundered and keeled over after being holed by a rock on Friday night. A total of 64 people were injured in the accident, health authorities said.
Sunday’s discovery of the bodies of a Spanish and an Italian man, both wearing life jackets, brought the known death toll to five. The bodies of two French tourists and a Peruvian crewmember were found on Saturday.
Rescuers plucked a South Korean honeymoon couple and an injured crewmember alive from the wreck on Sunday. But as time passed, the prospects of finding more passengers alive grew ever more uncertain.
The ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, was arrested on Saturday on charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship. The first officer was also detained.
The ship’s owners, Costa Crociere said Schettino appeared to have made a serious error in coming too close to shore and had not followed standard emergency procedures.
“The route followed by the ship was too close to the coast and it seems that his decisions on the management of the emergency did not follow the procedures of Costa Crociere, which are in line with and in some cases go beyond international standards,” said the company, a unit of Carnival Corp. & Plc , the world’s largest cruiseliner operator.
Investigators were working through evidence from recorders – the equivalent of the “black boxes” carried on planes – to try to establish the precise sequence of events behind the accident, which occurred in calm seas and shallow waters.
Searching the vast ship for survivors was like combing through a small town – but one tilted on its side, largely in darkness, partly underwater and full of floating debris.
The discovery of the bodies on Sunday dampened earlier euphoria when a helicopter lifted off injured chief purser Manrico Gianpetroni, hours after rescuers made voice contact with him deep inside the stricken, multi-storey vessel.
Gianpetroni, who had a broken leg, was winched up from the ship on a stretcher and taken to hospital.
“I never lost hope of being saved. It was a 36-hour nightmare,” he told reporters.