As Hope Fades, Divers Blast Holes in Cruise Ship
Minnesota couple among 29 passengers, crew unaccounted for
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2012 3:56 AM CST
Updated Jan 17, 2012 7:44 AM CST
The cruise ship Costa Concordia lies stricken off the shore of the island of Giglio.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Rescuers are working around the clock looking for survivors on the Costa Concordia—as Italian naval divers blast holes in the hull to speed the search—but they admit they are running out of time to find survivors. Some 25 passengers and four crew members from the cruise ship are still unaccounted for, the Los Angeles Times reports. Gerald and Barbara Heil, an elderly couple from Minnesota, are among the missing.

Conditions inside the ship are "very difficult," the head of the coast guard's diving team says. "The corridors are cluttered and it's hard for the divers to swim through." A navy rep says the holes will allow divers to enter more easily. Italian authorities have declared a state of emergency and have released funds in an attempt to avoid an environmental disaster in the maritime park where the ship capsized; the pristine waters off Giglio are part of a sanctuary for dolphins, porpoises, and whales, notes the AP.