Divers searching the capsized Italian cruise liner Costa Concordia suspended work today after the vast wreck shifted slightly, but officials said they are hoping to resume as soon as possible.
Five days after the 114,500 tonne cruise ship struck a rock and capsized off the picturesque Tuscan island of Giglio, hopes of finding anyone alive have faded and salvage experts are preparing to pump 2,300 tonnes of fuel from the hulk.
Eleven people are confirmed dead and at least 23 are still missing from more than 4,200 passengers and crew aboard when disaster struck the Concordia two hours into a week-long cruise of the western Mediterranean.
The ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, blamed for causing the accident by coming too close to shore and then abandoning the vessel before the evacuation was complete, was put under house arrest yesterday after being questioned by a judge.
The search continued overnight on sections above the water line. Until the order was given to suspend work, divers had been preparing to resume the difficult and dangerous search of partly submerged areas of the giant ship after entries are blasted into the ship with explosives.
"The visibility is awful. Yesterday I couldn't see my hand in front of my face," said Giuseppe Minciotti, one of the specialist diving team deployed on the wreck.
"I grabbed a piece of floating debris, and I couldn't see what it was until I had my head out of the water. It was a woman's shoe," he said.
"We're waiting today for new openings to be made, and we'll see if the visibility is any better in those points."
Work will focus on an evacuation assembly area on the partially submerged fourth deck, where most of the 11 bodies found so far have been located.
"It's where we have already found seven of the bodies and it's where the passengers and crew gathered to abandon ship," said coast guard spokesman Cosimo Nicastro.