Italian authorities have identified the bodies of three German passengers as divers kept up the search for those still missing from the Costa Concordia cruise ship that rammed into a reef off Italy.

Sixteen deaths have been confirmed so far in the disaster, but three of those bodies have yet to be identified. Another 16 people are still missing from the ship, which grounded on January 13, 2012 but officials have acknowledged that it would take a miracle to find any more survivors.

Salvage experts worked on Thursday so they could begin pumping tonnes of fuel off the ship starting Saturday to avert an environmental catastrophe. The stricken ship lies very close to a marine sanctuary.

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