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Brother keeps hope alive as cruise search is halted

Stringer/Italy / Reuters

Kevin Rebello, brother of Indian citizen Russel Rebello, who worked as a waiter on the Costa Concordia and is still missing, walks in Porto Santo Stefano, Italy on Wednesday.

GIGLIO ISLAND, Italy – Moving along the harbor wall, in the shadow of the half-submerged Costa Concordia, Kevin Rebello told me he still has hope that his brother Russel Rebello will be found safe and sound, five days after the cruise liner hit a rock and capsized off the Tuscan coast. “I am 100 percent sure,” Kevin said.

The two brothers hail from Bombay, India, but Russel was working as a waiter on the ship. He was last seen helping passengers off the crashed vessel. He had no life jacket and was working with other crew members to lower rescue boats.

It's an optimistic view of survival that is not shared by many on this island. Nobody has been pulled alive since Sunday and today is expected to bring a shift in efforts – from rescue to salvage.


Russel’s name appears on Italian authorities list of 28 passengers, including four crew members, still missing. More than 4,200 people were aboard the ship when the accident happened. So far, officials have confirmed 11 dead.

The Costa Concordia has 500,000 gallons of fuel which could take weeks to remove. But for the moment little can be done. Overnight the vessel moved slightly and divers had to be pulled off for their own safety. So far they have not been back.

Rough seas delay efforts to find more survivors aboard the cruise ship that capsized Friday night off the coast of Italy. NBC's Duncan Golestani reports from Giglio, Italy.

On Tuesday divers blasted holes in the hull to gain access to parts of the ship that have so far remained blocked. Five bodies were removed. As Kevin is no doubt aware, they had life jackets on and it's unlikely they were crew members; they have not been identified yet.

The lack of progress in the last 24 hours is certainly not due to lack of effort. Earlier, one of the search commanders was treated after collapsing from exhaustion and in the cafeterias and make-shift rest areas the tiredness shows on the faces of the rescue workers.

So now everyone here is waiting. For the next stage in the salvage effort or the possibility of an incoming storm that could bring six-foot waves and further disrupt things. For Kevin – he is waiting for any news about his brother at all.

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The Costa Concordia ran aground Jan. 13 off the coast of Italy, resulting in the evacuation of thousands of passengers as the ship began heavily listing.

Helping him stay positive is the knowledge that his brother's last known actions were helping others. “I am very proud of him,” he said. “That's the most important thing. The crew are the real heroes.”

Related link: Concordia reportedly took ill-fated route before
Check msnbc.com's Overhead Bin for full coverage of the cruise ship accident