When Nick Sloane, an engineer for the U.S. company Titan Salvage who heads the operation to remove the Costa Concordia, spoke to media recently an aspect of his words went largely unnoticed. He said the final two missing bodies are on the ship.
Referring to having to drill into a seabed made of granite to secure anchor blocks and pylons rather than using explosives to do so, Sloane, 52, said explosives posed risk for two reasons. "With explosions there would have been a greater risk of it slipping," he said. "And let's not forget that the bodies of two people are buried inside."
Costa Concordia slowly gives up dead
There were 4,229 passengers and crew onboard the Costa Concordia when the ship went down on Jan. 13, 2012 in the Tuscan Bay; 32 died with just the two bodies remaining unaccounted for. Within weeks most of the dead were found but it took until March 22 for the final five that have been recovered to be located in the ship's hull.
In January of 2013 a report surfaced saying the final two bodies, a female passenger from Sicily, Maria Grazia Trecarichi, and crew member Russel Rebello from India, had been located in the stern but that report was denied by Titan Salvage and Micoperi, the Italian company working with Titan on the project. In his interview, Sloane did not say if the two bodies were located or if he is simply assuming they are on the ship given the waters surrounding it did not give them up.
Largest marine salvage operation in history
The114,137 tonnes Costa Concordia (more than twice as heavy as the Titanic) is 951 feet and 5 inches (290 m) and is the largest salvage operation of its kind in marine history. It lies 300 metres off of the coast of the island of Giglio and 65 percent of the ship is underwater.
The liner is expected to be rotated next month and at that time it is hoped the final two bodies will be found. They plan is to have the ship refloated and towed to the port at Piombino for scrapping in the Spring.
Francesco Schettino, captain on the night she went down, is on trial in Grosseto, charged with causing a shipwreck, manslaughter and abandoning his ship. While his lawyers have tried at least twice for a plea bargain (they were denied), Schettino claims that he is innocent of any wrongdoing.