The man, who has not been named by police, allegedly climbed on board the vessel late on Thursday night with an Irishman and two South Africans, all employees of salvage firm Salvage Consortium Titan-Micoperi which is working to remove the ship from rocks on the Italian island of Giglio, where it capsized last year.
Caught by CCTV set up on an off limits area of the ship, the men were arrested by officers of the Italian Carabinieri police and found in possession of an empty rucksack bearing the cruise ship’s company logo, an investigative source said.
“The men, who were relatively new arrivals on the island, have been released pending a possible trial,” said the source. Charges could include theft and illegally entering a crime scene which is still officially sealed off.
In a statement, Titan said “The company has taken immediate action to remove (the) workers from the project.”
The 114,000 tonne Costa Concordia was righted to a semi-submerged, but upright position in September as part of a 600 million euro salvage operation after it smashed into rocks in January 2012 and capsized, leading to the loss of 32 lives. Salvage workers now hope to float it off next Spring.
Thieves stole the ship’s brass bell three months after the incident, although security on board has been tight since the ship was righted. Search teams combing the cabins and corridors have located the body of the Maria Grazia Trecarichi, one of two passengers whose bodies were not found, but are yet to find the body of Indian waiter Russel Rebello.
“Searching will only now resume when the ship is in a dock, drained of water,” said the police source.
The Italian court which is now trying the ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, for manslaughter, has meanwhile allowed salvage workers to start removing passengers’ cabin safes from the ship, following a request from consumers’ group Codacons, which said “the contents can now finally be restored to their legitimate owners.”
The removal of the safes, albeit only those which have remained above water, will help salvage workers lighten the vessel as much as possible to ensure it floats as high in the water as possible when it is raised from the underwater platform on which it currently sits.
The safes will be taken to a court-appointed warehouse at Talamone on the Italian mainland where the contents will be matched with owners, said a spokewoman for the ship’s operator, Costa Crociere.
Titan is meanwhile working to protect the ship from being shattered by winter storms by fixing steel braces between it and the underwater platform and padding its landward side with sacks of cement to stop it moving, she added.
By Tom Kington, The Telegraph
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