Hope still floats for Russel Rebello's kin

Jan 26, 2012, 07:51 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon
While search operators are still looking for the missing crewmember from Costa Concordia, his family has provided his international SIM number, so it can be used to track down his whereabouts 
Even as hope of his recovery fades, search operators are still looking for Russel Rebello - the only Indian missing from the ill-fated Cruise-liner Costa Concordia, which sank off the coast of Italy last Friday. To help them redouble their efforts, they are now armed with vital information that has been provided by his family members. 

Still missing: Russel's family members claim that though eight
bodies fished out of the sea are yet to be identified, Kevin, the missing
crewmember's brother, has not been asked to provide DNA samples for
identification yet

According to Russel's brother-in-law Vikram Pinto, the family received a phone call on Sunday evening from Russel's elder brother Kevin, who is in Italy. Kevin informed them that search operations are still being carried out. He thereafter handed over the phone to Debabrata Saha, the Indian Ambassador to Italy, who spoke to the entire family.

During the conversation, Saha assured the family that the search operators were leaving no stone unturned in their attempts to locate their missing kin, and that the Indian High Commission was supervising the operation.
"We asked the ambassador to convey to the Italian search team that they should try to track Russel's mobile number. They could also conduct an audit of the number of life rafts and boats on board, and compare it to the ones that were actually found," said Vikram.

Vikram added that Russel had bought an international SIM card from Italy, which he would use to call his family, time and network permitting. Russel had been using this SIM card for quite some time. Even on his last visit, he had the same SIM card.

"We are hopeful that if Russel had his mobile phone with him at the time of incident, the service provider would be able to trace the last few calls he made, or even provide clues to his location," explained Vikram. "If the number of life rafts and boats found does not tally with the actual number that were on board, we can still hope that Russel might be on one of them and might have sailed too far from the shore, making it difficult for the search team to find him."

Saha has agreed to pass on the vital information to the rescue team, and has promised to apprise Kevin about the progress made. Vikram added that search operators had found another dead body, the 13th to be recovered so far.

He said, "The woman whose body was found was not in the crew list. Kevin informed us that the woman was a Hungarian national."

Authorities are yet to identify the eight dead bodies that were fished out from the sea last week. Vikram said that Kevin hadn't been asked for a DNA sample for verification yet.

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