Italian Cruise Ship Wreck: Missing Grows to 29

PHOTO: The cruise ship Costa Concordia lies stricken off the shore of the island of Giglio, Jan. 15, 2012 in Giglio Porto, Italy.
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The number of people missing in the Italian cruise ship wreck has been increased to 29, the Italian coast guard said today.

A top coast guard official, Marco Brusco, said on state TV that 25 passengers and four crew members have not been found, according to the Associated Press.

The increased number of missing threatens to eventually boost the fatality count from the capsized ship. At the moment, at least six people are confirmed dead.

The discouraging announcement came after the coast guard had said all but 16 people -- including a couple from Minnesota -- had been accounted for. The official number rose after officials in other countries had reported higher numbers of missing citizens.

The search for survivors was still under way today as night fell, even though some officials said that the possibility of finding passengers and crew still alive three days after the vessel ran aground near the small island of Giglio grew slim.

"The hopes of finding any more survivors are fading," Sergio Ortelli, the mayor of Giglio, told The Sun today.

Francesco Schettino, the ship's captain, is being detained and questioned on allegations of manslaughter and abandoning the ship. He is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.

Rescue efforts had been halted for about three hours earlier in the day because the huge vessel sits on a 120-foot ledge and had shifted slightly as the water got rough. Officials feared the ship could be pushed off the ledge into water that is 224 feet deep.

Officials, however, told ABC News today that it had moved only about 1.5 centimeters and resumed their search for bodies and possible survivors.

The Costa Concordia was carrying 4,234 passengers and crew when it hit rocks Friday evening near Giglio, off the coast of Tuscany. Investigators say the ship was "incredibly close," about 450 feet from the shore.

At a news conference today, Costa Cruises chief executive officer Pier Luigi Foschi said the ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, had made an unapproved, unauthorized maneuver to change the ship's programmed course.

It's unclear why the ship was so close to shore. Early reports said that Schettino often brought the ship near island's port so passengers could take photographs. Italian media today, however, reported that he drew near the shore so he could wave to a friend who was on land.

"The company will be close to the captain and will provide him with all the necessary assistance, but we need to acknowledge the facts and we cannot deny human error," Foschi told a news conference in Genoa. "He wanted to show the ship, to [go] nearby this island of Giglio, so he decided to change the course of the ship to go closer to the island."

Unidentified Body Found Aboard

A sixth body was found in the wreckage early this morning when rescue workers searched the part of the ship that is above water.

The body had yet to be identified, although it was confirmed by Italian news outlet Ansa that the man was a passenger on the ship. The man was found wearing a life vest on the second deck in a part of the ship that was not flooded by water.

The bodies of two passengers found wearing life jackets aboard the ship were identified Sunday, officials said. Both passengers were elderly men -- one Italian, the other Spanish. The bodies were found earlier Sunday near a gathering point in the submerged part of the luxury liner.

"While the investigation is ongoing, preliminary indications are that there may have been significant human error on the part of the ship's master, Captain Francesco Schettino, which resulted in these grave consequences," Costa Cruises said in a statement. "The route of the vessel appears to have been too close to the shore, and in handling the emergency the captain appears not to have followed standard Costa procedures."

Experts are still analyzing the ship's black box, which has already revealed a one-hour lag between the time of the impact on the rocks at 9:45 p.m. local time Friday and the ship's alarm call to the coast guard at about 10:43 p.m. Investigators suspect Schettino tried to maneuver the ship before alerting the coast guard, Ansa reported.

Schettino is in custody, facing possible charges of manslaughter and abandoning his ship. He reportedly left the stricken vessel at approximately 12:30 a.m., while many passengers didn't get safely off the ship until 6 a.m., Ansa reported.

The U.S. Embassy in Rome estimates 120 Americans were on board the ship and 118 have been accounted for.

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