Italians are making emotional appeals for rescuers to continue searching for survivors of the Costa Concordia tragedy, one week since the cruise ship ran aground close to the Italian island of Giglio.
Members of the public have been making heartfelt pleas on social network sites and on national TV, mostly focusing on the plight of five-year-old Italian girl Dayana Arlotti who is missing with her father William Arlotti.
A Facebook page has been set up dedicated to continuing the search for the youngest victim of the tragedy.
"We are still hoping, even if day after day it’s getting harder” William's Arlotti's cousin, Sabrina Ottaviani, wrote on the Facebook page.
Her mother also made an appeal on Italy's most popular chat show, Porta a Porta.
“I am asking the rescuers to keep on looking for Dayana. I am asking them with all my heart to continue the search.”
Their appeals come as the rescue mission was called off once more after stormy weather made conditions around the Costa Concordia perilous for divers, who are already fighting against cold water and floating debris swirling round the wreckage on the reef.
Fears grow for the Costa Concordia itself, as the massive ship threatens to shift from the rocky outcrop where it ran aground on 13 January.
It’s the third time that the ship’s instability has hampered rescue efforts, as coastguards are cautious of the 114,500 tonne cruise liner moving as much as a metre. The weather is predicted to get worse over the weekend.
Currently suspended in 20 metres of water, the divers and rescuers are still searching for survivors on the Costa Concordia. Only after the search has been called off can salvage crews begin pumping some of the 2,300 tonnes of fuel out of the vessel. If the ship slides and the fuel tanks are wrenched open it could cause a major environmental disaster.
It is expected to take at least two weeks to pump the oil out of the ship’s 17 tanks. If it slides off the rocky shelf it could sink many more metres, which will not only make the operation more difficult but will threaten marine life in the clear waters surrounding the island.
The sea around the Tuscan archipelagoes is renowned for its dolphins, coral and sea life.
Earlier a video emerged which appeared to show the crew telling passengers standing scared in life jackets that everything was fine and to go back to their cabins.
The woman says in Italian:
"We would like to make an announcement in the name of your Captain. We kindly ask you to return to your cabins, or if you wish, to stay around the lounge area.
"As soon as we will be done fixing the problem we have with the electric generator, everything will go back to normal. If you wish to stay here, it’s ok, but I am asking you to return to your cabins and remain calm and seated.
"It’s all under control."
The Captain and the crew aboard the Costa Concordia have been criticised for not beginning an evacuation of the ship sooner. It is difficult to ascertain whether it was wise advice telling passengers to go further into the depths of the ship, when water had already begun leaking into the boat.
British Expat Sandra Rodgers, who is to begin legal action against the cruise liner company Costa Cruises said "Thank God we didn't do as they had told us as we may not have made it off the ship alive."
Criticism has also been levelled at the company after audio between port authorities and the Costa Concordia reveals that crew said they were facing a “blackout.” At the time of the recording, the cruise liner had already crashed into the rocks, and had begun to take on water.
Captain Francesco Schettino and his crew are accused of procrastinating rather than alerting the authorities sooner. It is rumoured that Schettino was seen dining with a 'mystery blonde', Moldovan Domnica Cemortan just hours before the disaster.
Today Ms Cemortan admitted chatting with Schettino, but denied she was his lover.
Eleven people are now confirmed dead, while more than 21 remain missing.
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