01/19/2012 04:21 EST | Updated 03/19/2012 05:12 EDT

Cruise ship divers resume rescue attempt

Divers have resumed the search for 21 people still missing after the cruise ship Costa Concordia struck a rock and foundered near the island of Giglio off the Tuscan coast.

They were scouring the submerged area of the ship once officials determined it had stabilized after shifting on the rocks a day earlier.

Rough seas were forecast for later Thursday, adding an element of uncertainty to the search. Plans to begin pumping about two million litres of fuel from the vessel remained tentative, depending on the weather. Operators are loathe to add an oil spill to the problems facing the island, the salvage operation and the cruise ship's owners.

The missing people include a five-year-old Italian girl and her father. The girl's mother issued a fresh appeal to speed the search and for passengers who saw the pair to come forward to help determine where they were last seen.

Some earlier reports have indicated that there might be a 12- to 24-hour window for completing the rescue operation, effectively setting a deadline for divers.

Later Thursday, however, the chief spokesman for the divers said no deadline had been set for them to end the search of the Costa Concordia, Reuters reported.

"We have not yet set a deadline," Luca Cari said. "The situation is still evolving."