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.PlayJohn Cantlie/Getty Images
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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.

"Our immediate priority is to account for all passengers and crew, and to secure the vessel to ensure that there are no environmental impacts," Costa Cruises said in a statement. "We have engaged the services of a top specialized salvage company to develop an action plan and help establish a protection perimeter around the ship."

The incident began with a loud bang followed by a blackout just as passengers were having dinner. Minutes later, an announcement from the crew said it was merely an electrical problem. But with the ship tilting, many passengers ignored their orders and scrambled to the deck.

Vacationers reported the crew did not want to lower the lifeboats. Many reported forcing their way on against orders. Some were lowered, but not everyone got on.

Honeymooners Emily Lau, 27, and her husband, Benji Smith, 34, said they had to tie sheets and a rope together to lower themselves over the side of the capsizing ship.

"It was every man for himself," Lau told "God Morning America" today. "The main thing is no one knew how to help because they were never trained. That is the cruise ship's fault."

By 11 p.m., the ship was tilting too much to its side and many lifeboats couldn't be lowered. Many of the ship's occupants jumped into the icy waters to swim for shore and at least 50 people had to be airlifted by helicopter.

Mark and Sarah Plath of Little Rock, Ark., awoke to an announcement just before 11 p.m. saying there was a power outage but not to worry about it. Using their iPhone's level app, the couple soon discovered the ship was tilting 23 degrees. When they went outside, they found about 500 people on the fourth floor deck.

"We were trying to get outside," Mark Plath told ABC News. "People had children with them, people were pushing, people were yelling, people were pushing back. It was difficult to stay in control because so many people were upset."

"We were moving really fast and so Mark said, 'We've got to jump,'" Sarah Plath said. The couple jumped and swam to nearby rocks.

Lynn Kaelin of Seattle told ABC News the ship's hallways were so crowded that "we couldn't see where we were going. People were crying and screaming. No one was telling us what to do, at all."

Karen Kois, also of Seattle, said she knew to get warm clothing, although others were barefoot and lightly dressed.

"I had a sweater on under a raincoat. I gave it to a baby who had nothing," she said.

As for the pushing and shoving, Kois said, the crew "told us go one way, then the other. We didn't know what to do. They were just standing looking at us."

When they succeeded in reaching a life boat, it took 45 minutes to launch it, with the ropes tangled and the little crafts tilted.

"And it's pitched black," Kois added.