The divers searching for bodies in the wreck of the Costa Concordia have reported that the condition inside of the ship is deteriorating, likely because of a combination of decomposing food and human remains. “Imagine the scene if you went on holiday and you came back to find the fridge had switched itself off. The divers are working in those conditions,” reported Enio Aquilino, a fire chief involved in the search, to the press. (Photograph: AFP/Getty Images)
One of the divers described the air as “unbreathable,” while another said the smell was “overpowering.”
This may be partially because the death toll has now been set at “24 to 25,” according to Franco Gabrielli, the spokesperson and commissioner for the rescue efforts. This is up 8 people from the previously reported number, indicating that there were more stowaway fatalities than was previously thought. It had been 10 days since the accident occurred.
The new, higher number of suspected fatalities was mentioned after the bodies of two more of the deceased were found near the Internet café within the lower levels of the ship. The bodies were discovered by divers who gained access to the lower part of the ship through holes created by explosives for that very purpose. The pair of women will be tested to see if their DNA matches any of the confirmed missing. There is speculation that one of the bodies is of an unregistered passenger.
Thankfully, Gabrielli announced that fears of the enormous ship slipping off of its’ perch atop the rocks off of the coast of Giglio. Due to some heavy winds and waves recently, there was some fear of the remains of the Costa Concordia plunging into the depths of the ocean, which would have made recovering bodies, fuel, and supplies nearly impossible.
The team also announced that they would continue searching for bodies in tandem with running an operation designed to pump 500,000 gallons of fuel from the bowels of the ship. The operation comes after environmentalists raised concerns that the fuel could leak and cause a catastrophe in a nearby marine sanctuary, as well as contaminate the pristine waters of the Mediterranean around Giglio Island. The pumping operation should take around for three days.
The main suspect in the case is the Costa Concordia’s captain, Franceso Schettini, who has been charged with multiple counts of manslaughter as well as abandoning ship and is on house arrest in his home south of Naples. International news outlets have chewed the disgraced captain apart for veering off-course to ‘salute’ a former coworker, crashing the ship, failing to call an evacuation order for hours, then leaving the vessel well before the evacuation was complete. Schettino says that he ‘tripped’ into a lifeboat and was trapped there, forcing him to leave the ship. Several incriminating recordings and testimonies have emerged, including one where the coast guard ordered him several times to re-board his doomed ship.
Schettino’s criminal defense attorney continues to claim that his client saved thousands of lives, and today issued a statement saying that investigations were being conducted on several other leads in the disaster. Schettino passed a drug test today and therefore will not face extra charges relating to operating a commercial vehicle under the influence of drugs.