Divers searching the Costa Concordia wreck off the Tuscan island of Giglio recovered on Tuesday the body of one of two lost victims who died in the cruise ship disaster.
Found in the submerged part of the ship, in an advanced state of decay, the body is believed to be that of Indian waiter Russel Rebello.
It was trapped near the third deck at the back of the ship, close to one of the restaurants, in an area where dishes were washed.
Italy’s Civil Protection agency said it has informed the Rebello’s family
A Mumbai native, 33-year-old Rebello began working on the Costa Concordia just a few months before the disaster.
The Concordia had 4,229 people from 70 countries on board when Capt. Francesco Schettino allegedly drove it on an unauthorized route too close to shore, ripping a huge gash in the hull.
As the ship tumbled onto its side on Jan. 13, 2012, it claimed 32 lives. Among them was Italian passenger Maria Grazia Trecarichi, who was celebrating her 50th birthday with her 17-year-old daughter. Her daughter survived, but Trecarichi is still missing.
A married father-of-two, Rebello is one of the heroes of the Concordia. When the cruise ship struck the rocks off Giglio Island, he was in his cabin, sick with high fever. He immediately went out on the decks to help passengers to safety and even gave one his own lifejacket.
Witnesses last saw Rebello as as he was making his way to a muster station at the restaurant by the stern.
The body recovery comes about three weeks after engineers managed to pull the Concordia upright in an unprecedented salvage operation.
The righting of the 114,000-ton ship has made it possible to access areas of the vessel that were previously off limits.
Franco Gabrielli, the head of the Civil Protection agency, announced two weeks ago the recovery of bone remains on the ship’s deck 4.
Results of DNA testing have not been released, but rumors in the Italian media suggest the remains were animal.
Image: A bronze plaque at the end of Giglio’s jetty lists the names of the 32 people who died in the disaster. The list includes the names of Russel Rebello and Maria Grazia Trecarichi. Credit: Rossella Lorenzi