The British embassy in Rome has confirmed that 23 British passengers and 12 crew members aboard the Costa Concordia that sank off the small island of Giglio on the night of Friday 13 January are safe and have been flown back to the UK. It is waiting to have final confirmation from Costa Crociera, owners of the vessel, that there were no other British subjects on board.

The Irish embassy in Rome said that the three Irish passengers aboard the ship made it back to safely to Dublin airport.

The US embassy in Rome and the US consulate in Florence have set up an emergency helpline for concerned American citizens, tel. (+39)0646741. The US embassy estimates the number of Americans on board at 120 and it is working closely with Italian authorities to locate two American passengers still missing.

So far six people have been confirmed dead and the number is expected to rise. Three days after the shipwreck, 16 people from the 114,500-tonne Costa Concordia are still not accounted for. Rescue officials said the latest casualty is thought to be an Italian. The other five confirmed dead include two French, an Italian, a Peruvian and a Spaniard.

Specialist teams of divers are checking through the liner, room by room. Their search is complicated by the fact that half of the 290-m long vessel is submerged, with many of the cabins in darkness. Although the sea is still calm it is bitterly cold.

Francesco Schettino, the captain of the