ROME – Italy’s cruise liner tragedy turned into anenvironmental crisis Monday, as rough seas battering the stricken mega-ship raised fears that fuel might leak into pristine waters off Tuscany that are part of aprotected sanctuary for dolphins, porpoises and whales.
The ship’s owner accused the jailed captain of causing the wreck that left at least six dead and29 missing, saying he made an “unapproved, unauthorizedmaneuver” to divert the vessel from its programmed course.
Earlier, authorities had said 16 people were missing. But an Italian Coast Guard official, Marco Brusco, said late Monday that25 passengers and four crew members were unaccounted for three days after the Costa Concordia struck a reef andcapsized off the coast of the tiny island of Giglio.
He didn’t explain the jump, but indicated 10 of the missing are Germans. Two Americans are also among the missing.
Brusco said there was still “a glimmer of hope” there could be survivors on parts of the vast cruise liner that have yet to be searched. The last survivor, a crewman who had broken his leg, was rescued on Sunday.
Waters that had remained calm for the first days of the rescue turned choppy Monday, shifting the wreckage and raisingfears that any further movementcould cause some of the500,000 gallons of fuel on board to leak into the waters off Giglio, which are popular with scubadivers and form part of theprotected Tuscan archipelago.Rescue operations weresuspended for several hours because of the rough seas.
Italy’s environmental ministerraised the alarm about a potentialenvironmental catastrophe. “At the moment there haven’t been any fuel leaks, but we have to intervene quickly,” the minister, Corrado Clini, told RAI state radio.