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Costa Concordia Search for Bodies Paused, 23 Still Missing

New Report Says Dangerous Route was Taken Before

The desperate search for bodies after the devastating Italian cruise ship crash has been put on hold due to dangerous diving conditions.

NBC News cited rescue officials Wednesday saying the ship may split from the middle as it has sunk 4.9 feet in the front and 3.2 feet in the back. This could pose a great threat and potentially trap rescue divers. A captain for the specialist divers told NBC that there was evidence that bodies remained at the bottom of the sea.

Visibility has also been a major concern.

"The visibility is awful. Yesterday I couldn't see my hand in front of my face," Giuseppe Minciotti, who is a part of the specialist diving team, told Reuters.

“I grabbed a piece of floating debris, and I couldn't see what it was until I had my head out of the water. It was a woman's shoe," Miniciotti said. "We're waiting today for new openings to be made, and we'll see if the visibility is any better in those points."

The fuel coming from the Costa Concordia could be dangerous to the environment local life, according to USA Today, The ship is carrying over 2,000 tons of fuel that environmentalists do not want to see spill out onto Giglio’s surrounding Tuscan Archipelago National Park.

"It's a protected area that can't protect its biodiversity," said Francesca Mapelli of the environmental organization WWF Italy. Mapelli said the government should step in to set limits on cruise lines use of the susceptible area.

There is no oil leaking from the ship, and a company hired to remove the fuel will begin as soon as it is safe.

The Costa Concordia took an unauthorized route to get closer to Giglio, hit against rocks, and then crashed on the coast of the island. The ship has capsized and has since been sinking. A new report by MSNBC showed the ship had taken the hazardous route before in August and it was authorized by the company and coast guard.

“Our assessment of the route this vessel took (in August) is it must have come perilously close, and I mean possibly within touching distance of the rock that it hit this time ... which the company is saying wholly unauthorized in terms of its proximity to the island,” said Adam Smallman, editor of shipping magazine “Lloyd’s List.”

The ships captain, Francesco Schettino, was questioned for hours by a judge in Grosseto, Tuscany for performing the dangerous maneuver and fleeing the ship after it crashed.

MSNBC’s report also revealed a transcript of a conversation with Captain Schettino and the Captain of the Italian Coast Guard in Livorno, Gregorio De Falco. De Falco demanded Schettino to return to his ship. Schettino was also informed that the conversation was being recorded.

“There are people trapped on board," De Falco said. “Now you go with your boat under the prow on the starboard side. There is a pilot ladder. You will climb that ladder and go on board. You go on board and then you will tell me how many people there are. Is that clear? I'm recording this conversation.”

BBC News reported that Schettino, who is currently under house arrest, responded to the command by saying it was too dark to return to the ship and finish the evacuation.

The ship had over 4200 passengers and the death toll has reached 11 as of Tuesday. There are around 23 people who are still unaccounted for with no word yet on when the search will resume.

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