Divers searching for two lost victims of the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster found on Thursday human remains at the site of the wreck off the Tuscan island of Giglio.
The Concordia had 4,229 people from 70 countries on board when captain 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, two bodies — Italian passenger Maria Grazia Tricarichi and Indian crew member Russel Rebello — have been missing.
Found during a search in the water near the central part of the ship, the bone remains will have to be identified with DNA tests in the next days.
“From the position (where) they were found, we are confident these could be the remains of the people we have been looking for,” Franco Gabrielli, the head of Italy’s civil protection agency told the Italian news channel SkyTG24.
He remarked however, that only DNA testing will provide the definitive answer.
The recovery of the remains after 20 months under the weight of the partly submerged 114,000-ton ship, “would be a near miracle,” Gabrielli added.
The finding comes after the Concordia was pulled upright last week in an unprecedented operation.
The righting of the ship will make it possible to access areas of the vessel that were previously off limits.
Judges at the trial in Grosseto accepted the request of Schettino’s legal team to carry new inspections on board in search for evidence of possible technical faults.
Schettino, who faces 20 years in prison if convicted of charges including manslaughter and abandoning ship, denies the charges.
On Monday, he blamed his Indonesian helmsman for the crash.
Image: Search at the Costa Concordia wreck. Credit: Rossella Lorenzi