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29 missing as search of stricken Costa Concordia continues

Meanwhile, the Italian environment minister has expressed concern that the ship could start leaking oil.

The Costa Concordia lying near Giglio Island, Italy.
The Costa Concordia lying near Giglio Island, Italy.
Image: Kyodo/AP/Press Association Images

ITALIAN DIVERS are still searching for survivors on board the Costa Concordia luxury cruise ship which ran aground off the coast of Italy late on Friday night.

At least six people have died. The BBC reports that officials have denied Italian reports that a seventh body had been located.

The Italian navy has begun blasting a hole in the ship’s hull, according to La Repubblica, to enable divers better access to areas of the ship in which survivors might be trapped.

The number of missing has been revised up to 29. The search of the above-water part of the stricken vessel resulted in the discovery of an injured crew member on Sunday, but that part of the ship has been fully searched by now.

Watch: rescue crews search the ship above and below water:

(Video via )

Meanwhile, the Italian environment minister Corrado Clini has voiced concerns about a potential environmental disaster if the 500,000 gallons of fuel on board the Costa Concordia begin leaking into the sea – though there is currently no sign of a leak.

The Tuscan archipelago where the boat ran aground is a protected area.

One of the world’s biggest ship salvagers has been hired by the Costa Concordia’s operator to remove the liner, although it’s not clear how they will manage the operation or if the ship will need to be cut up into parts.

The ship’s captain Francesco Schettino is still in custody on suspicion of manslaughter as officials continue to investigate the incident and to investigate claims he abandoned ship before the complete evacuation of passengers. He denies any wrongdoing. A judge is to decide today if he should remain in custody.

The cruise ship’s operator Costa Crociere SpA has accused Schettino of intentionally straying from his course, while the captain claims that the rocks the ship struck on Friday night were not marked on his charts.

- Additional reporting by the AP

In pictures: the capsized Costa Concordia >

‘Significant human error’ led to capsizing of Costa Concordia vessel >

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