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Death toll from cruise ship wreck up to 15

More bodies were found over the weekend aboard the cruise ship that capsized off the coast of Italy, raising the official death toll to 13. NBC's Michelle Kosinski reports.

Updated at 6:30 p.m. ET: Italian officials say two more bodies have been recovered from the capsized Costa Concordia, bringing the death toll of the accident to 15.

Franco Gabrielli, the national civil protection agency official in charge of the search, said Monday that divers recovered the bodies of two women from the ship's Internet cafe.

The recovery of the two brings to 17 the number of known missing.

Italy says Hungarian authorities have dismissed as "groundless" a report that an unregistered Hungarian woman was aboard the Costa Concordia cruise ship when it capsized.

Italy's Civil Protection Department released a statement Monday from the Hungarian embassy in Rome saying that information obtained by Hungarian authorities has led them "to unequivocally conclude that the indication regarding a missing Hungarian woman is groundless."

The statement said the person calling in the report gave a false name of someone who had died three years ago.

In addition to the body recovered on Sunday, the body found on Saturday and those of three men found a few days earlier, have yet to be identified, because the corpses were badly decomposed after so much time in the water. Gabrielli said they have identified the other eight bodies: four French, an Italian, a Hungarian, a German and a Spanish national.

Meanwhile, Italian officials say experts can begin pumping fuel from a capsized cruise ship while divers continue the search for people still missing.

Officials said an oily film was spotted about 300 yards from the Concordia, but it appears to be light oil, not the heavy fuel inside the vessel's tanks.

Admiral Ilarione dell'Anna said Monday that the fuel removal could begin as early as Tuesday.

Gabrielli said that would continue "as long as it is possible to inspect whatever can be inspected."

The decision to carry out both operations in tandem was made after it was determined that the Costa Concordia did not risk falling to a lower seabed.

"The ship is stable," Gabrielli said. 

The pristine sea around Giglio, where the ship with 4,200 people aboard rammed a reef and sliced open its hull on Jan. 13 before turning over on its side, is a prized fishing area and part of a protected area for whales and dolphins.

Meanwhile, Costa Cruises on Monday said it will  refund the full cost of the cruise and the costs involved in reaching the embarkation port and the costs for getting home, the company said in a statement.

 

Divers find the body of a woman in the ship as pressure grows to speed up the salvage operation. NBC's Duncan Golestani reports.

Investigation continues
The operators of the Costa Concordia faced questions over their share of the blame for the shipwreck.

The criminal probe into the ship's doomed voyage may be widened, a lawyer for the ship's captain said Monday.

The vice president of Carnival Corp, Howard Frank, arrived in Italy on Sunday to help oversee the situation, according to a source close to the company.

Frank and Pier Luigi Foschi, chairman and chief executive of Costa Cruises, met some of families of the victims of the tragedy on Giglio island on Sunday, the source said.

Costa Cruises has not received any notification that it is being investigated, according to a company spokesman. The company will be forthright with investigators and has full faith in the magistrature, he added.

Captain Francesco Schettino is accused of steering the cruise ship too close to shore while performing a maneuver known as a "salute" in which liners draw up very close to land to make a display.

Schettino, who is charged with multiple manslaughter and with abandoning ship before the evacuation of passengers and crew was complete, has told prosecutors he had been instructed to perform the maneuver by operator Costa Cruises.

Schettino's phone calls with the owner's marine operation director "... have opened further channels for investigation that could reasonably lead to an increase in the number of those under investigation," his lawyer, Bruno Leporatti, said in a statement.

Third parties "could have at least contributed to creating the tragic event," Leporatti said.

Leporatti, told reporters Monday that tests on urine and hair samples showed that his client had not been under the influence of alcohol or drugs before the crash. Prosecutors could not confirm the report, since they cannot speak about the investigation while it is still under way.

Schettino said the fatal maneuver was originally intended to bring the ship half a mile from the shore, "but then we brought it to 0.28" (of a nautical mile), he said.

Investigators have said the actual point of impact was much closer to the shore but establishing the exact sequence of events could be complicated by problems with the recording equipment used to track the ship's progress.

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The Costa Concordia ran aground Jan. 13 off the coast of Italy, resulting in the evacuation of thousands of passengers as the ship began heavily listing.

Schettino said the black box on board had been broken for two weeks and he had asked for it to be repaired, in vain.

According to transcripts of his hearing with investigators leaked to Italian newspapers, Schettino told magistrates Costa had insisted on the maneuver to please passengers and attract publicity.

"It was planned, we were supposed to have done it a week earlier but it was not possible because of bad weather," Schettino said, according to the Corriere della Sera daily.

"They insisted. They said: 'We do tourist navigation, we have to be seen, get publicity and greet the island'."

Foschi has previously said that Schettino delayed issuing the SOS and evacuation orders and gave false information to the company headquarters.

"Personally, I think he wasn't honest with us," Foschi told Corriere della Sera Friday. He said the first phone conversation between Schettino and Ferrarini took place 20 minutes after the ship hit the rock.

Foschi, who visited Giglio Sunday, declined to respond to Schettino's latest comments.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.