Divers discovered human remains near the shipwrecked cruise liner Costa Concordia, which lay half-submerged off the coast of Italy’s Giglio Island for more than a year and a half until a complicated salvage operation last week. Thirty-two people died in the wreck, and the remains may belong to two more people — an Indian waiter and an Italian passenger — whose bodies were never recovered.
Civil Protection chief Franco Gabrielli told reporters he had immediately notified the victims’ relatives, who had traveled to the island in hopes their loved ones’ remains could be found.
Coast Guard and Customs Service divers located the remains near the central part of the ship, where survivors had said the two were last seen.
Specialized police divers were going into the sea to remove the remains, which will be examined by forensic experts on the mainland in Tuscany. DNA testing could take a few days, authorities said.
The side of the ship where the remains were found is badly smashed in after lying submerged since it capsized on Jan. 13, 2012.
Experts plan to go inside the ship, retrieve some of the Concordia’s computers, and try to determine why backup generators and some other equipment failed to work immediately after the collision.
The operation to right the ship last week with a procedure known as “parbuckling” had never been attempted before on a a large liner. The salvage crew will reinforce the starboard side of the ship, which had been submerged. They plan to attach empty tanks to float the vessel into port sometime this spring so that it can be disassembled. The crew has taken special care not to further damage the ship to avoid contaminating the pristine ocean around Giglio.
The Concordia’s captain, Francesco Schettino, has been charged with manslaughter and other crimes related to his supervision of the ship at the time of the wreck.
For past coverage of the salvage operation, continue reading here.