Body found in Costa Concordia, light fuel detected nearby
Published Saturday, January 21, 2012 10:10PM EST
Rescuers in Italy inched through the capsized Costa Concordia on Saturday, trying to ensure they haven't missed any survivors or bodies.
Hours into their search, divers found the body of a woman wearing a life jacket near an evacuation staging point in the stern of the cruise ship.
The woman hasn't been identified yet.
The discovery marks the 12th confirmed death since the ship hit a reef and ran aground off Italy's west coast on Jan. 14.
It was not clear whether the woman was a passenger or crew member. A female Peruvian bartender and several adult female passengers are among the people still listed as missing before the latest body was found.
With 20 people still missing, Italy-based journalist Josephine McKenna says the search for bodies has become more strategic.
"They're trying to follow the course that the passengers would have taken, an escape route," she told CTV News Channel on Saturday.
Some divers are going from cabin to cabin and leaving cameras in each room for about 45 minutes. McKenna said the recordings are a safeguard to ensure search crews leave "no stone unturned."
To make entering and exiting the ship easier, divers have blasted more holes into the hull of the multimillion-dollar vessel.
And some are not giving hope that survivors will be found.
An official from an Ottawa-based company advising Italian search crews said survivors trapped in a cabin would face a better chance of survival than those trapped under the rubble of an earthquake.
"There's a very good chance there is someone still alive on that ship," John Green told CTV's Roger Smith. "If there is some that's trapped, there are good survivable spaces... ".
Green's company helped with rescue efforts after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, where he said survivors were found 17 days after the first tremor.
Meanwhile, Italian officials have confirmed the presence of light fuel in the sea around the Concordia, which is marooned off the Tuscan island of Giglio.
It's believed that the fuel may have come from the ship's machinery.
Attempting to diffuse environmental concerns, Coast Guard spokesman Cmdr. Cosimo Nicastro said Saturday that there's no evidence to suggest that the ship is leaking any of its 2,200 metric tons of fuel oil.
He said the light fuel substance detected near the ship on Saturday appears to be diesel, used as a fuel for rescue boats and dinghies as well as a lubricant for ship machinery.
Concerns about a potential fuel leak from the ship's massive double-bottomed tanks have existed since the luxury liner first ran aground.
The ship is perched on a rocky sea shelf near an ecologically sensitive part of Italy's western coast. Experts warn that a fuel spill from the ship could devastate the marine life -- from dolphins to mollusks -- off the coast of Giglio.
"Right along this coast it could be an absolute environmental disaster," said McKenna.
In addition to fuel, there are 185 tons of diesel and lubricants trapped inside the marooned vessel.
While crews search for survivors and race to stem a potential environmental crisis, the ship's captain remains under house arrest.
Francesco Schettino is under investigation for alleged manslaughter and abandoning ship before all passengers and crew had evacuated.
Schettino insists he tried to co-ordinate rescue efforts from shore while widely-circulated audio recordings suggest he resisted orders to return to the ship.
Police divers, carrying out orders from prosecutors investigating Schettino, searched his cabin. State TV and the Italian news agency ANSA reported that the divers removed his safe and two suitcases. A passport and several documents were also pulled out, state media said.
With files from The Associated Press