March 22, 2012. GIGLIO, Italy—Search crews under the direction of the Italian Civil Protection agency discovered five more bodies today trapped in the water below the capsized Costa Concordia. The cruise ship sank after it was gashed by a reef on January 13, just offshore this small island.
No details are available yet about the five victims that were spotted today in spaces between the hull and the seabed as divers were setting up a robot to help them search the inaccessible parts of the wrecked ship. Officials estimate that it will be several days before the robotic device will be able to access and remove the trapped victims.
Even after these bodies are retrieved, bringing closure to the victims’ families will be a lengthy process. Similar to the arduous task they faced with the previous eight bodies, forensic authorities face a slow and difficult process as they try to officially confirm the identities of the decomposed remains after more than two months in the water.
With the exception of three victims who were found in the sea near the Concordia shortly after the cruise ship grounded, all of the other previously retrieved bodies were found inside the ship. The death toll from this tragedy now brings the number of bodies found to 30. Two people remain missing and are presumed dead.
Simultaneously, the work to remove the Concordia’s fuel supply is winding down, and may be completed by the end of this week. Bids are also being reviewed for the disassembly and removal the ship. Even after that contractor is selected, the cruise ship’s removal operation could take until 2013 to complete.