Time runs short in search for final survivors

By Michael Day

The determination of rescuers to find more survivors aboard the Costa Concordia seemed last night to be coming increasingly into conflict with plans to salvage the stricken ship's 2400 tonnes of fuel to avert an environmental disaster.

Contradictory statements from emergency workers about how much time divers had left to scour the ship for missing passengers or their bodies came as two of the five dead found this week were named as Pierre Gregoire and Jeanne Gannard, both French nationals.

So far, 11 passengers have been declared dead and hopes of finding any of the 21 missing people alive are fading.

But rescue divers said they were determined to keep searching the flooded vessel after the sea became calmer yesterday.

The pressure to continue was heightened when an Italian mother, Susy Albertini, made an anguished plea on national television for emergency workers to keep searching for her 5-year-old daughter Dyana, who is missing with her father, William Arlotti.

"Please continue to search for my child. Don't stop.

"Bring her home to me as soon as you can," Albertini said.

Albertini's lawyer asked for information about where Arlotti was last seen on board to allow divers to narrow their search.

Diving experts also warned that the salvage operation, which was being stepped up in Giglio Port yesterday, might impede their activities.

Danilo Del Carro, marshal of the coast guard divers' division, who helped to retrieve five bodies on Wednesday, said: "Depending on the weather, I think we've got two more days.

"The salvage firm is getting stuff in place already. But when the floating equipment is out there it will get in the way of what we do."

However, Filippo Marini, the chief of the Italian coast guard, said: "The absolute priority is finding the people aboard the vessel.

"The salvage work can proceed if it allows the rescue work to continue in absolute security for the divers."

- Independent

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