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Death toll climbs to 12 aboard doomed cruise ship

Woman's body found wearing lifejacket near an evacuation area.

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People watch salvage and recovery efforts today aboard the Costa Concordia, which ran around off the Isola del Giglio a week ago. Divers searching the cruise ship wreck found a 12th body. (FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)

Divers found the Costa Concordia’s 12th victim today wearing a lifejacket near an evacuation staging area at the rear of the fated ocean liner, Associated Press reported.

Officials have not released the woman’s name or nationality; there are still 20 missing from the ship, which ran aground on some rocks one week ago. The recovery mission was especially dangerous for divers because the woman’s body was located in a narrow corridor.

"The divers' lines risked snagging" on objects in the passageway, Coast Guard Cmdr. Cosimo Nicastro said.

Italian naval divers cleared the pathway by detonating small charges. CBS News is also reporting salvage teams found the ship’s “black box.” Divers inspecting the bridge said they found two cameras and a computer hard drive.

It’s hoped there’s enough information on the devices to help investigators shed light on exactly what happened when rocks ripped a hole in the ship. Capt. Francesco Schettino is under house arrest, accused of taking the ship off course, manslaughter and abandoning ship.

UPDATE: Schettino told magistrates he informed the ship's owners of the accident immediately, denying their charges that he delayed raising the alarm, judicial sources told Reuters on Saturday. 

His statements to prosecutors investigating the disaster, reported in the Italian press and confirmed by judicial sources, underline the growing battle between the ship's captain and its operator Costa Cruises.

More on GlobalPost: Italy, bravado and the Costa Concordia

The rescue work resumed after the ship moved about five inches toward open water on Friday, the New York Times reported. There was concern the $450-million Costa Concordia would slip off a rock ledge.

However, the cruise ship settled enough for divers and firefighters to return today. The renewed recovery mission also came as small amounts of fuel appeared near the boat.

There are almost 500,000 gallons of heavy fuel and oil aboard the ship; however, fuel found in the water is suspected to have come from machinery on board. There is no signs the ship’s massive fuel tanks are leaking, officials told Agence France-Presse, who have hi-tech sensors monitoring the listing vessel.

Italy’s civil defence agency is now in charge of the operations.

"We have put no time limit on the search,” said Franco Gabrielli, the agency’s chief. “We hope to combine the rescue mission with the removal of the oil, but will wait for the findings before taking a decision."

A report from a technical committee is expected sometime Sunday. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/italy/120121/death-toll-climbs-12-aboard-doomed-cruise-ship