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Were there clandestine passengers on the Costa Concordia?

After the discovery of a 13th body, a rescue official has raised the possibility that stowaways could push the death toll higher.

A police boat sails in front of the capsized vessel today
A police boat sails in front of the capsized vessel today
Image: Pier Paolo Cito/AP/Press Association Images

A TOP RESCUE official has raised concerns that “clandestine” passengers could have been aboard the capsized Costa Concordia – raising fears the number of missing could be higher than originally thought.

Divers found a 13th body aboard the vessel today as police released a video showing the rooms and corridors of the ship underwater.

“There could have been X persons who we don’t know about who were inside, who were clandestine” passengers aboard the ship, Franco Gabrielli, the national civil protection official in charge of the rescue effort, told reporters at a briefing.

The ship, with 4,200 people aboard rammed a reef and sliced open its hull on January 13 before turning over on its side.

Gabrielli said that relatives of a Hungarian woman have told Italian authorities that she had telephoned them from aboard the ship and that they haven’t heard from her since the accident. He said it was possible that a woman’s body pulled from the wreckage by divers on Saturday might be that of the unregistered passenger.

But the identity of that body and of three male bodies, all badly decomposed after days in the water, have yet to be established. Gabrielli said they have identified the other eight bodies: four French, an Italian, a Hungarian, a German and a Spanish national.

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Until today, authorities had said that 20 people are still missing.

The search had been halted for several hours earlier today, after instrument readings indicated that the Concordia has shifted a bit on its precarious perch on a seabed just outside Giglio’s port.

A few metres away, the sea bottom drops off suddenly, by some 20-30 metres, and if the Concordia should abruptly roll off its ledge, rescuers could be trapped inside.

WATCH: Eerie video of divers exploring capsized Costa Concordia>

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Associated Press

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