Cruise Ship Death Toll Hits 5

Elderly couple discovered at emergency gathering point
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 15, 2012 11:13 AM CST
Cruise Ship Disaster: Death Toll Hits 5
Firefighters on a dinghy look at a rock emerging from the side of the Costa Concordia, the day after it ran aground off the Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012.   (AP Photo/Andrea Sinibaldi, Lapresse)

The death toll in the Costa Concordia disaster has hit five, as divers discovered the bodies of two elderly people at an emergency gathering point that submerged when the cruise ship tipped over, reports the AP. There are 15 people still unaccounted for today, after authorities pulled a cabin service worker from the ship, as well as a honeymooning South Korean couple from an unsubmerged part of the vessel after hearing their screams.

"We are still searching" for bodies, "but in the hope that there might have been an air pocket" to enable survival, an Italian Coast Guard commander said. The search is turning perilous, notes the AP, with divers braving murky waters filled with debris—as well as the possibility that the ship could shift suddenly and sink in nearby deeper waters. "There are tents, mattresses, other objects moving which can get tangled in the divers' equipment," says the commander. An Italian prosecutor confirmed that the ship's captain is facing charges of abandoning ship after an incensed French couple saw him evacuating under a blanket on a lifeboat before all the passengers had escaped; he could face up to 12 years. Click through the gallery for more scenes from the staggering wreck. (More cruise ships stories.)

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