Costa Concordia: Rescuers Use Explosives To Blast Holes In Cruise Liner

Rescuers searching for those still missing from the cruise liner that capsized after crashing into rocks in Italy have begun using explosives to blast holes in the vessel.

Rescuers searching for those still missing from the cruise liner that capsized after crashing into rocks in Italy have begun using explosives to blast holes in the vessel.

It comes as Italian emergency services deny reports in La Stampa newspaper that a seventh body has been found on the Costa Concordia.

The increased death toll was reported in the Italian media after "black box" recordings showed the ship's captain ignored an order to get back on board.

Taped telephone conversations released by authorities suggest Francesco Schettino was evasive when ordered by a port official to supervise the rescue.

Officials said last night a total of 29 people remained missing, while six have been confirmed dead after the cruise liner collided into a reef off the Tuscan coast near the island of Giglio.

Two controlled explosions were carried out early this morning to allow firefighters and scuba divers to enter parts of the ship that they had not yet been able to search.

The number of those still being sought - 25 passengers and four crew members - rose after authorities revealed some of those previously counted as safe had still not contacted family members.

GIGLIO PORTO, ITALY - JANUARY 16: The cruise ship Costa Concordia lies stricken off the shore of the island of Giglio, on January 16, 2012 in Giglio Porto, Italy. More than four thousand people were on board when the ship hit rocks last Friday. The official death toll is now six, with a further 16 people still missing. The rescue operation was temporarily suspended earlier due to the ship moving as it slowly sinks further into the sea.

At least three Italian families have said that although their loved ones were listed among those safely evacuated, they had not heard any word from them.

About 10 Germans are thought to be among those unaccounted for.

And while coast guard official Marco Brusco said he held a "glimmer of hope" that more survivors may still be found, Giglio Mayor Sergio Ortelli said earlier that hopes of finding any of them alive were minimal.

Schettino is due in court later charged with manslaughter, abandoning ship and causing a shipwreck - all of which he denies.

A conversation between the captain and a coastguard official recorded on one of the ship's "black boxes" was revealed through the release of a transcript.

"Now you go to the bow, you climb up the emergency ladder and co-ordinate the evacuation," the official reportedly tells him.

"You must tell us how many people, children, women and passengers are there and the exact number of each category.

"What are you doing? Are you abandoning the rescue? Captain, this is an order, I am the one in charge now. You have declared abandoning ship, There are already bodies."

"How many?" Schettino says, to which the official responds: "That is for you to tell me, what are you doing? Do you want to go home?"

Schettino said in an earlier telephone call that "(We) cannot get on board because the rear of the ship is keeling over."

ANSA news agency also said there was a kind of "mutiny" among the crew which decided on an evacuation before being given formal orders by the captain.

Schettino has been accused by the vessel's owner, Costa Cruises, of sailing close to land to "make a salute".

GIGLIO PORTO, ITALY - JANUARY 16: The cruise ship Costa Concordia lies stricken off the shore of the island of Giglio, on January 16, 2012 in Giglio Porto, Italy. More than four thousand people were on board when the ship hit rocks last Friday. The official death toll is now six, with a further 16 people still missing. The rescue operation was temporarily suspended earlier due to the ship moving as it slowly sinks further into the sea.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that in 2010 Schettino gave an interview to a Czech newspaper where he said he never wanted to face a scenario like the Titantic.

He told Dnes: "I wouldn't like to be in the role of the captain of the Titanic, having to sail in an ocean of icebergs.

"But I think that thanks to preparation, you can handle any situation and deal with potential problems."

Costa Cruises chairman Pier Luigi Foschi has apologised for the tragedy, which has left dozens of the 4,200 people on board injured and the 114,000-tonne ship lying on its side off Tuscany.

And Clarence Mitchell, who is representing Costa Cruises, said: "Mr Foschi confirmed the captain had been approaching the island of Giglio to 'make a salute'.

"The company says this (incident) was caused by an attempt by the captain to show the ship to the port.

"But there's a criminal investigation going on and we're not going to say anything that's going to compromise that or the captain's case."

Prosecutor Francesco Verusio said the captain's alleged conduct was "inexcusable."

"We are struck by the unscrupulousness of the reckless manoeuvre that the commander of the Costa Concordia made near the island of Giglio."

It comes after some of the 35 Britons on board described the panic that ensued after the ship collided with rocks.

The tragedy could also become an environmental crisis as rough seas battering the ship have raised fears fuel might leak into waters that are part of a protected sanctuary for dolphins, porpoises and whales.