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Italian cruise ship wreck: 29 still missing

January 16, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The number of people missing from a cruise ship that ran aground off the coast of Italy has risen to 29, and it included two Americans.

The Costa Concordia ran aground Friday off a tiny Tuscan island, sparking a frantic evacuation of the 4,200 people onboard. The ship is currently resting on a submerged ledge, but the worry now is that rough seas could push it beneath the waves completely.

So far, six people were confirmed dead.

After choppy waters forced rescue operations to halt earlier on Monday, conditions have improved, and the search for survivors is back under way. A retired Minnesota couple, Gerard and Barbara Heil, remains among the missing.

Home video of passengers desperate to get into the lifeboats was released, revealing harrowing new scenes from the shipwreck.

An American couple who were on their honeymoon described their escape to Robin Roberts on "Good Morning America."

"There was screaming, children crying, a lot of confusion," survivor Benji Smith said on "Good Morning America."

Smith said some crewmembers were telling passengers to stay calm and that everything was under control.

Questions are swirling about how the captian and crew responded to the accident. According to the ship's black box, the Coast Guard wasn't alerted until 10:43 p.m., and orders to abandon ship weren't given until 10:50 p.m. - more than an hour and 15 minutes after the ship ran aground.

Costa Crociere chairman and CEO Pier Luigi Foschi said the captain made an unapproved maneuver to change the ship's programmed course.

"The fact that it left from this course is due solely to a maneuver by the commander that was unapproved, that was unauthorized, and unknown to Costa," said Pier Luigi Foschi, CEO of Costa Crociere.

The captain of the cruise ship, Francesco Schettino, is being held by authorities, facing charges of manslaughter and abandoning ship, according to ABC News. Schettino has insisted he didn't leave the liner early.

"We are struck by the unscrupulousness of the reckless maneuver that the commander of the Costa Concordia made near the island of Giglio," prosecutor Francesco Verusio told reporters. "It was inexcusable."

Schettino will face a judge at a preliminary hearing on Tuesday.

Adam and Joanna Lynch from El Dorado County in Northern California are among the survivors of the cruise ship.

Back home in Placerville, one of their sons, Gerald, is tending to the family's consignment store and was upset when he heard the news.

"At the moment, I was really scared. I sort of broke down a little bit, emotionally," he said. "She was giving away life jackets to elderly and people who were in wheelchairs."

The Lynches finally got ashore safely, but they hadn't ruled out other options had staying on the ship gotten more dangerous.

The couple said they would have swam to safety.

Downey resident Cindy Ananias and her family are finally back home. She's been on dozens of cruises before, so she knew something wasn't right when the ship ran aground.

"We were sitting in the dining room, eating dinner and all of a sudden we heard a vibrating noise," Ananias said.

At the time, one couple handed their young baby to Ananias's mother because they believed she was in a better position to survive.

"With the gravity, my mom couldn't hold the child or the child was going to fall," Ananias said. "There was no way she could still hold the baby, my mom gave it back and said be with your child."

The Ananias still don't know what happened to that baby.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

See photos of the Costa Concordia cruise ship wreck.


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