Divers find 8 more bodies on Costa Concordia cruise ship

Divers searching the abandoned, half-sunken hull of the Costa Concordia cruise liner Wednesday found eight bodies in an unexplored and difficult- to-reach area of the ship, authorities said.

One of the victims found was 5-year-old Dayana Arlotti, whose story of a dream trip with her father turned cruel nightmare moved Italians in the days after the Jan. 13 shipwreck.

In other developments Wednesday, prosecutors in the Tuscan coastal town of Grosseto added four ship’s officers and three employees of cruise ship company Costa Crociere to the list of people under investigation, joining the captain and the first mate, news reports said.

Four of the bodies, including that of the girl, were found in early afternoon and transported to a nearby hospital for identification, a spokeswoman for Italy’s Civil Protection Agency said by telephone. The other four were located too late in the day for recovery to be possible and rescuers planned to retrieve them Thursday, she said.


Wednesday’s discoveries brought the confirmed death toll to 25; seven people remained unaccounted for, including Dayana’s father.

Not all of the five-tiered, 300-yard-long floating hotel has been inspected because the nearly 90-degree angle at which the ship is leaning and floating objects in the dark water make exploration extremely dangerous.

The Civil Protection Agency spokeswoman said that a special platform had been constructed on the fourth passenger bridge to allow divers access and address a problem that rescuers have often faced during search operations: getting out of difficult spaces.

Capt. Francesco Schettino remains under house arrest in Meta di Sorrento, his hometown in southern Italy, on charges of causing a shipwreck, manslaughter and abandoning ship. The role of his first mate, Ciro Ambrosio, is also being probed.

Among those added to the investigation list are Roberto Ferrarini, leader of the emergency unit of Costa Crociere; the company’s executive vice president, Manfred Ursprunger; and fleet superintendent Paolo Parodi. They are suspected of negligence in the handling of the emergency, news reports said.

Four officers of the ship who were on the command bridge at the time of the fatal maneuver and subsequent emergency are suspected of errors in the maneuver that resulted in the shipwreck.

Costa Crociere expressed solidarity with the seven and said that it was confident of their “professional competence and ethical correctness.”

The company has distanced itself from the captain, however, saying that he was not authorized to take the ship so close to the shore.

The spokeswoman for the Civil Protection Agency said that the delicate task of removing nearly half a million gallons of fuel from the ship’s largest cisterns had been completed, with only one-third of the fuel remaining, in smaller containers. The operation will continue, she said, adding that so far the leaking of contaminants that many had feared had not occurred.

The mother of Dayana, Susy Albertini, who was not on the cruise ship, had continued to urge rescuers to look for her daughter, even after reasonable hope of her surviving was gone.

The website of the daily La Repubblica quoted her as saying, after being notified of the recovery of the body, “I’m running to go and hold my little girl, even if I know there is nothing more to do.”

Delaney is a special correspondent.