Search crews find more bodies following Italian cruise ship disaster

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Search crews in Italy have found five more bodies beneath the wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, which struck a reef off an island in January.

The development raises to 30 the number of bodies found. Two people are still missing and are presumed dead.

The Italian Civil Protection agency co-ordinating search operations said the bodies were all found in spaces between the hull and the seabed off the Tuscan island of Giglio. Since the January 13 capsizing, the Concordia has been lying on its side, half-submerged in water near Giglio’s port.

It was not clear when the bodies would be removed and no details were given of their identities.

Earlier, Franco Gabrielli, the official co-ordinating the search and salvage efforts, told reporters the bodies were spotted when divers were working to set up a robotic device to search the wreck.

The bodies were seen “in the spaces between the hull and the seabed”, he said. He added that it would take several days of work for the bodies to be removed.

All of the other bodies found had been inside the ship, except for three found in the sea in the first hours after the ship capsized.

Concordia hit a rocky reef, took on water and turned over just outside Giglio’s port on January 13. Since then, divers and searchers have been combing the half-submerged ship, from passenger cabins to lifts to the decks where many of the 4,200 passengers and crew gathered during the botched evacuation. Many jumped into the sea because lifeboats could not be launched.

A crew member from India and several passengers are either missing or unidentified.

Captain Francesco Schettino is being held under house arrest near Naples.