Jan 17 - Twenty-nine people are still missing as the stricken Italian cruise liner shifted causing environmental fears to rise. Marie-Claire Fennessy reports.
PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL At least 29 people are still missing as the stricken Italian cruise liner shifted on its resting place, forcing search and rescue teams to suspend their efforts for a few hours. Six bodies have been found so far. Most of the 4,200 passengers and crew managed to escape. One crew member said they did what they could to help. (SOUNDBITE) FILIPINO CREW MEMBER JOHN GATBONTON SAYING (Filipino): "I saw that the ship was already tilting on its side. They made the announcement later to abandon ship and line up near the life boats. We slowly moved the passengers in the life craft without giving any announcement on the life craft preparation. We let the passengers get inside the life craft and released it down." The ship struck a rock just as dinner was being served on Friday night, as it veered off course near a Tuscan island. Heiko Jensen, the Germany manager of Costa, which operates the Costa Concordia ship said only the captain can change the ship's route. (SOUNDBITE) (German) COSTA GERMANY MANAGER, HEIKO JENSEN, SAYING: "As I already said, it appears to us that the captain made an independent decision to change the ship's course specified by Costa. All our ships travel according to a specified course set by Costa headquarters in Genoa. There is only one person -- and that's the captain -- who can change this route. And based on the information we have, the captain independently changed this course." Captain Francesco Schettino was arrested a day after the accident, accused of manslaughter and abandoning ship before all people were evacuated. Schettino denies the accusation and says the rock he hit was not marked on charts. Jensen disagrees. (SOUNDBITE) COSTA GERMANY MANAGER, HEIKO JENSEN, SAYING(German): "I can confirm to you that this rock does appear on maps." Local residents, many whose livelihoods depend on tourism were fearful that the ship's fuel might leak into the pristine nature reserve. (SOUNDBITE) LOCAL MAN FRANCO DE POLITI SAYING (Italian): "We are worried about it, and not only the people from Giglio, people from the whole area are worried about it. We hope they manage to suck out the fuel as soon as possible." A protective barrier was being put in place just in case, as worsening weather threatened to move the ship from its rocky resting place. Marie-Claire Fennessy, Reuters