London, Jan 23 (ANI): Italian authorities have admitted that there could have been unregistered passengers on the Costa Concordia, which would further complicate efforts to establish the exact number of people still missing from the capsized luxury cruise ship.
Around 20 people are still missing, Indian and Peruvian crew members, French passengers, an elderly American couple, an Italian father and his five year old daughter.
Franco Gabrielli, head of the Civil Protection Authority, said there could have been "clandestine" passengers on board.
"There could have been X persons who we don't know about who were inside, who were clandestine passengers aboard the ship," The Telegraph quoted Gabrielli, as saying.
The suggestion of clandestine passengers raises the possibility that either a crew member or a passenger smuggled a friend or companion on board the ship, which rammed into rocks off the island of Giglio ten days ago.
A spokesman for Gabrielli said that, "passengers might have been invited on board by a crew member at the last minute."
According to sources, a second possibility was that someone could have turned up at the last minute and been registered in the correct manner, but the information might not have been relayed to Costa Cruises in Genoa by the time the ship smashed into rocks just two hours after its departure.
Costa Cruises, howver, denied this.
Another possibility is that some crew members were not registered properly because they were working on the ship illegally. Many of the crew were from India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Shipping experts, however, denied this saying security checks had been significantly tightened in the wake of anti-terrorism legislation introduced in 2003, known as the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code. (ANI)
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