Image: Flowers thrown by family members of missing victims from the Costa Concordia cruise ship which ran aground off the west coast of Italy, float near the Costa Concordia at Giglio island
Giampiero Sposito  /  Reuters
Roses float near the Costa Concordia wreck Feb. 13 after being tossed into the sea by family members of those still missing. Seventeen people died after the cruise ship crashed into rocks off the coast of Italy on Jan. 13, and 15 remain missing and are presumed dead.
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updated 2/13/2012 7:11:06 PM ET 2012-02-14T00:11:06

Tossing bouquets of red roses into the sea, the relatives of people still missing one month after the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster mourned in a private tribute Monday.

The family members boarded a small boat that took them about 50 yards from the stricken cruise ship, which struck a reef Jan. 13 off the Tuscan coast when its captain made an unauthorized maneuver. Seventeen people died while trying to flee and 15 remain missing and are presumed dead.

The search for the missing was called off after authorities determined it was too risky for the rescue divers.

Among family members at the scene of the tragedy was Susy Albertini, the mother of 5-year-old Dayana Arlotti, who was traveling with her father William, who is also missing. Kevin Rebello, the brother of a missing waiter from India, also attended, as did the families of missing French and German passengers.

The relatives hugged each other as the roses floated on the Mediterranean. Rebello said Monday's anniversary was the hardest day yet since the shipwreck.

"I haven't lost hope yet, anything can still happen, a miracle. He may be injured, he may have lost consciousness, anything may have happened. I still have hope, I always have hope, hope is the last thing to die," Rebello said. "I hope I will find him as soon as possible, to bring him home."

Dayana Arlotti was on the cruise with her father and his girlfriend, who survived the tragedy. William and Dayana disappeared after they returned to the cabin to get medicine for his severe diabetes, the Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported. Family members seeking news called his cell phone for days after the tragedy until it stopped ringing on the fifth day.

A statue of the Virgin Mary was retrieved from the ship and donated by the Costa Crociere SpA cruise company that owns the Concordia. It was placed in the main port church for a memorial Mass held later Monday. Along with relatives of the missing, Costa CEO Pier Luigi Foschi attended the service.

"The feeling that has always been with me during these 30 days and today is sorrow. Sorrow for those who died, for those who are missing," said the Rev. Lorenzo Pasquotti.

After weeks of delays due to bad weather, underwater pumping operations began Sunday to remove some of the 500,000 gallons of fuel aboard the ship, which has threatened to turn the human tragedy into an environmental disaster. Crews on Monday emptied the first of 15 tanks that are believed to hold around 84 percent of the fuel on board, Italy's civil protection department said.

Officials say it will take 28 consecutive days of pumping to empty the tanks.

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There have been no reports so far of heavy fuel leaking into the pristine waters off the tiny island of Giglio, which are part of a protected sanctuary for dolphins, whales and proposes.

The Concordia had 4,200 people on board when it slammed into a reef off Giglio after the captain deviated from the ship's planned course in an apparent stunt. Passengers have said the captain then delayed sounding the evacuation alarm until the ship listed so heavily that lifeboats on one side couldn't be lowered.

The captain, Francesco Schettino, is under house arrest, accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the ship before all the passengers had been evacuated.

Italian officials have said it will take seven to ten months after the fuel is pumped out for salvage experts to remove the ship from the shore.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Italy calls off Costa Concordia search

  1. Closed captioning of: Italy calls off Costa Concordia search

    >>> in italy tonight, officials there say they have called off the search for missing people in the submerged portion of that costa concordia vessel because it's just become too dangerous for the divers on the job. they'll continue to search the portion above the water line and around the coastline. 16 people are still listed, remember, as officially m lly missing. that includes an american couple from minnesota. 15 people

Photos: Luxury cruise ship Costa Concordia runs aground

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  1. A diver participates in a search operation Sept. 24, 2013, for two missing bodies onboard the Costa Concordia. Divers on Sept. 26 found what they believe to be the last two missing bodies from the sea where the Costa Concordia cruise liner sank last year off the Italian island of Giglio. The huge ship was carrying more than 4,000 holidaymakers and crew when it capsized after striking rocks on January 13, 2012, killing 32 people, including two whose bodies were not recovered. (Laura Lezza / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Two images taken by the Astrium satellite of the wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise ship in the harbor of Isola de Giglio, on Sept. 12 (left) and after it was turned upright on Sept. 17 (right). (EADS via AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. A damaged section of the stricken Costa Concordia is visible after a parbuckling operation successfully uprighted the ship in the early hours of Sept. 17. Work began the previous day to right the stricken vessel, which capsized on Jan. 12, 2012. (Marco Secchi / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. The Costa Concordia is seen at the end of the parbuckling operation outside Giglio harbor on Sept. 17. Salvage crews raised the cruise liner in one of the most difficult and expensive wreck recovery projects ever performed. In a 19-hour operation, the massive ship was pulled upright by a series of huge jacks and cables and left resting in 30 meters of water on underwater platforms drilled into the rocky sea bed. (Tony Gentile / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. This combination shows four photos of the Costa Concordia, after it ran aground on Jan. 14, 2012 (top left), beginning to emerge during the salvage operation on Sept. 16 (top right and bottom left) and after it was turned upright on Sept. 17 (bottom right). (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. The Costa Concordia is seen after it was lifted upright, on the Tuscan Island of Giglio, Italy, early on Sept. 17. The crippled cruise ship was pulled completely upright early Tuesday after a complicated, 19-hour operation to wrench it from its side where it capsized last year off Tuscany, with officials declaring it a "perfect" end to a daring and unprecedented engineering feat. (Andrew Medichini / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. The wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise ship begins to emerge from water on Sept. 16. Thirty-two people died when the ship, with 4,200 passengers onboard, hit rocks and ran aground off the island of Giglio. (Vincenzo Pinto / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. People watch as the wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise ship begins to emerge from water on Sept. 16. Thirty-two people died when the ship, with 4,200 passengers onboard, hit rocks and ran aground off the island of Giglio. (Vincenzo Pinto / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Salvage workers work on the capsized Costa Concordia cruise ship on Sept. 16. (Tony Gentile / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. A lightning storm is pictured over the sea near the capsized cruise liner Costa Concordia on Sept. 15. The luxury cruise ship capsized and sank on Jan. 13, 2012, after approaching the Tuscan island to perform a manuever close to the shore known as a "salute." It struck a rock which tore a gash in its hull and capsized soon afterwards. 32 people lost their lives during a chaotic nighttime evacuation of 4,200 passengers and crew. Two bodies have still not been recovered. (Tony Gentile / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. An aerial view, taken from an Italian navy helicopter, shows the Costa Concordia surrounded by other vessels on Aug. 26. (Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. People sunbathe in front of the capsized cruise liner Costa Concordia lying surrounded by cranes outside Giglio harbor on July 17. (Giampiero Sposito / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Workers stand on the Costa Concordia cruise ship near the port on Jan. 8, 2013 on the Italian island of Giglio. (Filippo Monteforte / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. The Costa Concordia cruise ship lays near the harbor of Giglio Porto on Oct. 14, 2012. The luxury cruise ship capsized and sank on Jan. 13, 2012, after approaching the Tuscan island of Giglio to perform a manuever close to the shore known as a "salute." It struck a rock which tore a gash in its hull and capsized soon afterwards. 32 people lost their lives during a chaotic nighttime evacuation of 4,200 passengers and crew. Two bodies have still not been recovered. (Filippo Monteforte / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Francesco Schettino, the former captain of the Costa Concordia luxury cruise ship, arrives at the Teatro Moderno theater for a pre-trial hearing in Grosseto, Italy, on Oct. 16, 2012. The case of Schettino, 51, is of such interest that a theater had to be turned into a courtroom to accommodate those who had a legitimate claim to be at the closed-door hearing. The court will decide if Schettino should face a full trial, which could take place next year. (Gregorio Borgia / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. A boy prepares to snorkel in front of the wreckage of the capsized cruise liner Costa Concordia, near the harbour of Giglio Porto, on Aug. 28, 2012. Tourists on the Tuscan coast were taking part in a rather macabre form of sightseeing -- taking boat trips to view the wreckage of shipwrecked cruise liner Costa Concordia, where 32 people lost their lives after it hit rocks on January 13. (Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Workers prepare to remove a giant rock embedded in the hull of the capsized Costa Concordia on July 12. (Remo Casilli / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. A couple sunbathe in front of the wreckage of the Costa Concordia on June 20. (Max Rossi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. The body of a victim, retrieved from the Costa Concordia cruise ship which ran aground off the west coast of Italy, is lifted to a helicopter during operations to bring up four bodies from the wreck at Giglio island on Feb. 23. Divers found a total of eight bodies on the wreck on Feb. 22. (Giampiero Sposito / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. The capsized Costa Concordia cruise ship is seen off the west coast of Italy at the snow-covered Giglio island on Feb. 11. Salvage and rescue operations on the capsized ship faced a new obstacle on Friday as rare snowfall hit Giglio, stopping ferry services out of Porto Santo Stefano to the island. (Giampiero Sposito / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Hungarians carry the coffin of Sandor Feher, a violinist who died during the accident after he had rescued children and other passengers on the Costa Concordia. The funeral ceremony was held in Budapest on Feb. 1, in the KIspest cemetery. (Ferenc Isza / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Technicians of SMIT, the Dutch extraction company, work in the port of Giglio on Jan. 28. Rough seas forced a delay in the planned start of the operation to remove a half-million gallons of fuel from the grounded Costa Concordia. (Pier Paolo Cito / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Seagulls fly in front of the grounded cruise ship on Jan. 30. Residents of Giglio are growing increasingly worried about threats to the environment and the future of the Italian island as the recovery operation is forecast to take up to a year. (Pier Paolo Cito / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. A firefighter is lowered from a helicopter above the Costa Concordia in an undated photo made available on Jan. 23. (Vigili del Fuoco via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Two Italian navy scuba divers inspect inside the Costa Concordia as it lies on its side, half-submerged and threatening to slide into deeper waters, in this photo released on Jan. 23. (Marina Militare via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. A firefighter climbs on the bridge of the Costa Concordia on Jan. 22. A week after the 114,500-ton ship ran aground and capsized off the Tuscan coast, hopes of finding anyone alive have all but disappeared. (Paul Hanna / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Family members of missing victims throw flowers into the water near the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise ship, on Jan. 21. (Giampiero Sposito / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Carabinieri police divers passing by the bell of the stricken Costa Concordia luxury liner during their underwater search on Jan. 19. Rescuers were forced to suspend operations after the ship moved again on Friday, firefighters' spokeman Luca Cari said. (Carabinieri via AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Relatives and friends of victims of the stricken cruise ship are escorted by police to a local church on the island of Giglio on Jan. 19. (Massimo Percossi / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Scuba divers of the Gruppo Carabinieri Subaquei diving under the wreck of the Costa Concordia on Jan. 19. (Carabinieri via EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Search and rescue teams continue the search for survivors on the Costa Concordia on Jan. 19. (Tullio M. Puglia / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. The Costa Serena, background, passes its wrecked sister ship, the Costa Concordia, on Jan. 18. International cruise goers put on a brave face as Costa's first Mediterranean tour since last week's tragedy set sail out of the same port as the doomed luxury liner. (Vincenzo Pinto / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Angel Paredes, right, a Peruvian crew member who survived the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster, is welcomed by relatives at Lima's airport on Jan. 18. (Mariana Bazo / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Police divers surface in the water Jan. 18 close to the wrecked Costa Concordia. (Massimo Percossi / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. A bench from the stricken ship lies on nearby rocks on Jan. 18. (Massimo Percossi / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. A satellite image shows the wreck of the Costa Concordia off the island of Giglio on Jan. 17. (DigitalGlobe) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. The heavily listing Costa Concordia, as seen the night of Jan. 16 from the harbor on Giglio island. (Andreas Solaro / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. A woman looks at the wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise liner on Jan. 16. The owner of the luxury liner said its captain had made "errors of judgment" as the search continued for the missing. (Gregorio Borgia / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. A woman is hugged by a relative upon her arrival early Jan. 16 on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion with 30 other passengers who survived the Costa Concordia accident. (Richard Bouhet / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. Rescue workers climb aboard the Costa Concordia on Jan. 16. (Max Rossi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. Costa Concordia passenger Lauren Moore, right, of Bowling Green, Ky., is greeted upon her return from Italy by her father, Ronnie Moore, second right; mother, Sarah Moore; and sister, Leslie Moore, left, on Jan 15 at the Louisville International Airport. (Alex Slitz / Daily News via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. Firefighters on a dinghy look at a rock emerging from the side of the Costa Concordia on Jan. 15. (Andrea Sinibaldi / Lapresse via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. Costa Concordia cruise liner captain Francesco Schettino, right, is escorted by police on Jan. 14 in Grosseto. Schettino was arrested on charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship, police said. (Stringer/italy / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. The Costa Concordia cruise ship that ran aground is seen Jan. 14 off the coast of Giglio. At least 11 people were killed, and rescuers were searching for other victims after the Italian cruise ship carrying more than 4,000 people ran aground. (Italian Guardia di Finanza / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  45. Passengers arrive at Porto Santo Stefano on Jan. 14 after the Costa Concordia ran aground. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  46. Italian coast guard personnel recover the "black box" of the luxury cruise ship Costa Concordia to establish the precise sequence of events behind the disaster, which occurred in calm seas and clear weather. (Gregorio Borgia / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  47. Rescue workers help a woman Jan. 14 upon her arrival at Porto Santo Stefano in Italy. Helicopters and nearby boats assisted in the rescue efforts. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  48. Members of the emergency services take an injured passenger from the Costa Concordia to a waiting ambulance Jan. 14 on the island of Giglio. (Enzo Russo / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  49. Passengers and crew members wearing life jackets prepare to evacuate the Costa Concordia on Jan. 13 after the ship ran aground. (Sky Italia via AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  50. The Costa Concordia lays on its starboard side after it ran aground on Jan. 13, forcing some 4,200 people aboard to evacuate aboard lifeboats to the nearby Isola del Giglio. (Giuseppe Modesti / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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