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The cruise ship Costa Concordia leans on its side off the tiny Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012. Gregorio Borgia/AP/Press Association Images

Costa Concordia: Search suspended as ship shifts

The Italian coastguard has been forced to suspend the search for missing people after the capsized vessel began to shift, sparking fears it may slide into deeper waters.

THE SEARCH OF the Costa Concordia cruise ship which ran aground off the Italian coast last Friday has been suspended after the capsized ship began to shift, according to the Italian coastguard.

Twenty-three people are still missing following the disaster.

Experts say they are unable to approach the ship until it stops moving and have expressed fears that it may slide into deeper waters, the BBC reports.

Naval divers recovered the bodies of five people from the vessel yesterday after blasting holes in the hull to gain greater access, bringing the confirmed death toll to 11.

The captain of the ship, Francesco Schettino, was released from jail last night and placed under house arrest. He is accused of abandoning the ship before the evacuation was complete – a charge he denies.

However, a recording of a conversation between Schettino and an Italian port authority, Gregorio De Falcore, released yesterday showed the captain being repeatedly instructed to return to the ship in order to complete the evacuation.

Schettino is heard resisting the order to return to the sinking vessel. He tells De Falcore that he is coordinating the evacuation from where he is, that the ship is listing and that it is dark.

“Go aboard. It’s an order. You have no evaluation to make. You declared abandon ship, now I give orders. Go aboard. Is it clear?” the port official is heard responding.

Under Italian law, Schettino could face up to 12 years in prison for abandoning the ship.

Read: Watch: Footage shows nighttime Costa Concordia evacuation>

Read: Italian captain being placed under house arrest>

Read: Five more bodies found in Costa Concordia>

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