Italy cruise wreck rescue halted, captain under house arrest

Italy cruise wreck rescue halted, captain under house arrest

The captain of a doomed Italian cruise liner today returned home to the Amalfi coast under house arrest, as fears grew that bad weather could hamper rescue efforts on the wreck.

Divers, mountain rescue teams and soldiers have so far recovered 11 bodies from the turbid waters of the half-submerged hulk and the surrounding sea.

Another 20 passengers and crewmen are unaccounted for, their relatives huddled in hotels in the area anxiously waiting for news of their loved ones.

Rescuers were again forced to suspend their search today as the vessel shifted. Emergency workers fear that the ship could slip from the rocky shelf on which it is resting and plunge into the open sea to sink entirely.

"Instruments indicated the ship had moved, we are in the process of evaluating if it has found a new resting point to allow us to resume. For the moment we cannot even go near it," emergency services spokesman Luca Cari said.

The Costa Concordia's 52-year-old captain Francesco Schettino -- described by one Italian newspaper as "the most hated man in Italy" -- faces years in prison on charges of multiple manslaughter and abandoning ship.

He has defended himself, saying his manoeuvre after the ship hit rocks and pitched onto its side saved lives. He said he left the ship to coordinate evacuation efforts from the shore.

But in a dramatic port authority recording of a telephone exchange as the disaster unfolded late on Friday, Schettino repeatedly told a port official who was urging him to get back on board the vessel that he could not get access.