Costa Concordia: Underwater thieves make off with ship's bell


A still image taken from a YouTube video shows the bell of the stricken Costa Concordia on its submerged bow.

It’s a coup. But a strange one.

It emerged today that two weeks ago underwater thieves had evaded lasers and 24-hour police surveillance, diving beneath 26 feet of water to make off with the bell of the stricken cruise liner Costa Concordia, according to Reuters.

The submerged bow of the ship had been monitored by lasers used to track minute movements in the body of the half-sunken vessel.

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The Associated Press reported today that Italian prosecutors had opened an investigation into the bell’s disappearance

The cruise liner ran aground by Giglio Island on Jan 13, injuring 64 and killing at least 25. Italian authorities said this week they would use “robot-like” equipment to search for the remains of seven others who are feared dead.

According to Reuters, investigators believe the theft required more than one person. The bell was etched with the name of the ship and 2006, the year of its christening. The news agency said bells were traditionally used to mark the top and the half of the hour during four-hour watches.

"I can only guess that someone took it as a sort of morbid memento," Sergio Ortelli, mayor of Giglio, was quoted as saying. "In my mind, the missing bell is of no importance. We have the ship's statue of the Madonna in our church, and that for us has much more symbolic meaning."

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Reuters produced this video report on salvage efforts two weeks after the wreck: