Search suspended for cruise ship victims

10:37 AM, Jan 30, 2012   |    comments
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NORTH ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Bill Sonntag has been waiting for more than two weeks for any news about his friends Jerry and Barbara Heil.

The Heils are from White Bear Lake and remain the only Americans still unaccounted for after the Costa Concordia ran aground January 13.

"There's not a day that's gone by that I don't think of them and pray for them," Sonntag said.

Recovery efforts have been difficult because crews are dealing with deep dark waters and parts of the ship have become impossible to get to. Bad weather and rough waves forced rescue workers to suspend their search for victims Sunday making loved ones at home more anxious.

"Trying to be as patient as calm was Jerry. I'm not very good at it but trying to use him as an example to do that," Sonntag said.

A 17th body was recovered Saturday but 16 people are still unaccounted for. Some families of the missing are in Italy watching the rescue efforts and hoping for closure.

Sonntag said he watches the news and looks at pictures of the shipwreck all the time looking for any updates to a story he still can't believe is real.

"It was like are you kidding me? What's the odds? Wish it didn't happen but it is what it is," he said.

The ship moved about an inch and half overnight Saturday. It s not only makes rescue efforts dangerous it also makes it difficult to remove half a million gallons of fuel from the ship. Experts are watching it carefully and say it could take up to 10 months to remove the ship.

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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