Two dead found

Salvage experts can begin pumping fuel from a capsized cruise ship as early as Tuesday to avert a possible environmental catastrophe and the ship is stable enough that search efforts for the missing can continue, Italian officials said.
The decision to carry out both operations in tandem was made after instrument readings determined that the Costa Concordia was not at risk of sliding into deeper waters, Franco Gabrielli, chief of the national civil protection agency, told reporters Monday.
"The ship is stable. ... There is no problem or danger that it is about to drop onto much lower seabed," Gabrielli said on the island of Giglio.
A helicopter approaches the Costa Concordia cruise ship.
A helicopter approaches the Costa Concordia cruise ship. Photo: Reuters
The Concordia rammed a reef on January 13 on the tiny Tuscan island and capsized a few hours later just outside Giglio's port as it was carrying 4200 passengers and crew on a Mediterranean cruise.
Taking advantage of calm seas, divers on Monday found the bodies of two women near the ship's internet cafe, raising to 15 the number of confirmed dead.
As of Monday night, 10 days after the accident, 17 people were still unaccounted for. Gabrielli's office said earlier reports that an unregistered Hungarian woman had called friends from the ship before it flipped over turned out to be "groundless".
Captain Francesco Schettino
Under hosue arrest ... Captain Francesco Schettino. Photo: Reuters
The ship's Italian captain, Francesco Schettino is under house arrest near Naples as prosecutors investigate him for suspected manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his vessel while some people were still aboard. He has insisted that he was coordinating rescue operations from a lifeboat and then from shore.
Costa Crociere SpA has distanced itself from the captain, contending that he made an unauthorised deviation from the ship's programmed route.
Schettino, however, has reportedly told investigators that Costa officials had requested that he sail close to Giglio in a publicity move.
"Clearly, in the first 24-48 hours, the main focus of the company was doing everything it could to rescue people" ... Simon Calder, travel editor with <em>The Independent.</em>
Salvage experts can begin pumping fuel from the capsized cruise ship Photo: AFP
Schettino's lawyer, Bruno Leporatti, told reporters on Monday that tests on urine and hair samples showed that his client had not been under the influence of alcohol or drugs before the crash.
Prosecutors could not confirm the report since they cannot speak about the investigation while it is under way.
Despite earlier fears, officials said the crippled cruise ship, with a 70-metre-long gash in its hull, is not expected to roll off its rocky seabed perch and be swallowed by the sea.
Keeled over ... the Costa Concordia.
Keeled over ... the Costa Concordia. Photo: AFP
An Italian geologist, on Giglio to monitor the Concordia, told Sky TG24 on Monday the ship was barely moving.
"It is moving at the rate of about one or two millimeters an hour," said Nicola Casagli, adding the ship has moved up to 3mm an hour when tides come in or out. "The ship responds to the tides."
The sea has been calm for several days but he said waves were expected to grow in the next few days.
In all, seven bodies await identification, but Gabrielli said officials have DNA from the relatives of all of the missing passengers and are working to confirm their names.
He said the search for bodies would continue "as long as it is possible to inspect whatever can be inspected".
Meanwhile, Italian Admiral Ilarione dell'Anna said the fuel removal could begin as early as Tuesday, addressing growing concern among residents and environmentalists that the heavy, tar-like fuel could leak from the ship's 17 double-bottomed tanks.

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