Oil spreads from wreck of ship off Italy coast - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Oil spreads from wreck of ship off Italy coast

The 'Costa Concordia' cruise ship lies listed off the coast and close to the harbor of the Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy, 15 January 2012., Photo Credit: EPA/ENZO RUSSO The 'Costa Concordia' cruise ship lies listed off the coast and close to the harbor of the Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy, 15 January 2012., Photo Credit: EPA/ENZO RUSSO

GIGLIO, Italy (AP) - A thin film of oil spread from the Costa Concordia cruise ship as waves battered its wreckage off Italy's coast Wednesday, adding to fears of an environmental disaster in the area's sensitive, pristine waters. Authorities were trying to assess how serious and extensive the spread was.

Italian authorities also identified a German woman, Siglinde Stumpf, as being among those killed in the Jan. 13 capsizing of the vessel. Stumpf is the 17th person whose body has been identified. Fifteen others are listed as missing.

The search for the missing has been hampered by rough seas and a decision not to keep looking within the submerged hulk of the ship because it has become too dangerous.

A crack also appeared Wednesday between two large glass panels that formed part of the roof of the massive ship. The film of oil was spreading from a separate part of the ship, apparently the stern.

The ship contains about 500,000 gallons (2,400 tons) of heavy fuel and other pollutants, and fears have grown that those pollutants could damage an environment that is home to dolphins, whales and other marine life.

Floating barriers placed around the ship to protect the water were lifted by winds Wednesday, allowing oils from the engine to spread throughout the bay.

The Italian Port Authority said the leak consisted of a thin film of hydrocarbons. Francesca Maffini, a spokeswoman for Civil Protection, the agency in charge of the rescue effort, said it wasn't yet clear how serious the situation is.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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