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Italian cruise deaths rise to 13

(Xinhua)

12:34, January 23, 2012

ROME, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- The death toll of the Costa Concordia wreck rose to 13 on Sunday after the body of a woman was found in the cruise ship that ran aground off the Italian Tuscany coast a week ago.

According to ANSA news agency, 19 people are still missing after the ship with 4,229 passengers and crew members on board crashed into an underwater cliff last Friday in the shallow waters near Giglio island, off the country's western coast.

Civil Protection Chief Franco Gabrielli said on Sunday that so far eight bodies have been identified, four being French, one Italian, one Hungarian, a German and a Spanish.

The bodies which have not been identified yet include three men and two women, he said, adding that rescue operations are now focusing on the ship's fourth deck in the restaurant area.

"There may have been unauthorized passengers on board too," although all the identified bodies appear to belong to those on the official list, Gabrielli said.

Specialist divers have recovered the Costa Concordia black box as well as the video cameras around the command quarters, which may reveal important details on the disastrous accident.

Earlier last week, captain Francesco Schettino, 52, has been put under house arrest with charges of manslaughter and abandoning the ship, although he has denied any wrongdoing.

On Sunday, local reports said the 290-meter-long cruise liner is continuing to gradually shift into deeper water, causing fears of further damage of its inside structures that might lead to fuel leaks from its tanks.

A specialist team from Dutch company SMIT is ready to start pumping the 2,400 tons of fuels still inside the vessel as soon as search and rescue teams have examined the entire ship.

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