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Italy ship rescuers forced to retreat

ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION Bad weather forces salvage crews to retreat from the Costa Concordia shipwreck but not before pump valves to siphon thousands of tonnes of fuel off the ship were installed. Rescue workers also found another body in the wreck. Salvage crews preparing to pump thousands of tonnes of diesel fuel and oil from the wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise ship off the Italian coast suspended work on Saturday (January 28) because of bad weather that could carry into next week. A barge carrying pumping equipment that was attached to the capsized ship was withdrawn after strong winds and high waves worsened conditions for the divers working on the huge wreck. With heavy seas and strong winds set to continue, work on removing more than 2,300 tonnes of diesel may be held up for days, according to a spokesman for SMIT, the Dutch company that is managing the operation. "We were ready this morning to commence the pumping in the course of the day. Unfortunately the weather has turned in our disadvantage, has deteriorated and therefore towards the end of the morning we were, we had to demobilize our vessel, the Maloria, back from the side of the ship, back into the port here and therefore are now unfortunately, although we're ready to start and have made the preparations on the first four forward tanks, in anticipation of an improvement of the weather, to commence with pumping," Martijn Schuttevaer told reporters. Despite the interruption the search continued for bodies on the half-submerged vessel, which lies in about 20 meters of water on a rock shelf close to the island of Giglio off the Tuscan coast. Divers found the body of a woman on Saturday, bringing the number of known dead to 17. Authorities also said they had identified the body of a German woman recovered last week. Two of the bodies found after the shipwreck are unidentified and 15 people are still missing. With no hope of finding survivors, the focus has switched to preventing an environmental disaster in Giglio, a popular holiday island in a marine nature reserve. Before the work was suspended, crews were installing valves to help pump out six fuel tanks towards the front of the ship which hold most of the diesel. The pumping operation is expected to take between three weeks and a month and it is hoped the crews will be able to get back to work as soon as possible. "Naturally we are monitoring the weather forecast intensely from an hourly basis. If we look at the indications, we currently see up until Tuesday, the weather is looking unfavorable so current estimates are midweek at best that we expect to go back on site," Schuttevaer said. The Concordia, a 290-meter long floating resort carrying more than 4,200 passengers and crew, sank more than two weeks ago after it ran into a rock close to the shore which tore a long gash in its hull.Auteur: reutersTags: Costa Cut Italy shipwreck reporter rescuers narration forced the Bad Gepost: 28 januari 2012Beoordeling: 0.0Stemmen: 0]]>

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