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January 24th, 2012

Death Toll Rises To 16 In Italian Cruise Ship Disaster

Divers searching the Costa Concordia discovered another body Tuesday, bringing the death toll to 16 in the Italian cruise ship disaster . At least six of the recovered bodies have yet to be identified, but are presumed to include some of the 17 people still unaccounted for.

The luxury liner ran aground and capsized Jan. 13 just off the tiny island of Giglio after the captain veered from the ship’s course and struck a reef, forcing the evacuation of 4,200 passengers and crew.

Divers continued to blast holes in the ship’s hull to continue searching for those missing, and preliminary operations were beginning to siphon off the ship’s half-million gallons of fuel. The pumping of oil is expected to start Saturday and will be conducted as search and rescue operations continue.

Officials on Monday identified an oil film on the water about 300 yards from the vessel, and absorbent panels were placed to contain it. The film was very thin and didn’t present significant danger of toxicity, officials said.

Giglio and its waters are part of a protected seven-island marine park famed for clear waters and abundant marine life.

Franco Gabrielli, head of the Italian national civil protection agency, said he asked Costa Crociere SpA, which owns the Concordia, to create a plan for the debris from inside the ship that is floating away. Tables, chairs and other material from the vessel’s innards are being hauled away daily by barge. Costa is owned by Miami-based Carnival Corp.

Also Tuesday, Costa said it would give passengers a full refund of the cruise cost and reimburse travel expenses, on-board expenses and medical expenses that resulted from the incident.

The cruise ship injury attorneys at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers represent persons and passengers who have been injured in cruise liner accidents.

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