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The body of Russel Rebello, the last person unaccounted for after the Costa Concordia luxury liner sank off the Tuscan coast in January 2012, killing 32 people, has been found, his family confirmed Monday.

“I don’t have words to express—just my pain, my tears, my heart pounding harder and my body trembling,” Rebello’s brother Kevin wrote on Facebook, hours after workers made the discovery on the eighth deck of the doomed ship. “Thanks to everyone who prayed and believed that one day he would be found.”

Russel was working on board as a waiter when the Costa Concordia — in an alleged bid to "salute" the people of Giglio — struck a submerged outcropping of rocks and collapsed on a reef. Nearly 4,000 people escaped the stricken vessel, but by dawn 32 were still missing and presumed dead. Russel’s body was the only one yet to be found.

The discovery ends an acute misery for the wider Rebello family, who are Catholics in Mumbai. Without a body to mourn, Russel’s mother, father, and wife have not begun to contemplate a funeral, and for the same reason, they have yet to tell Russel’s 6-year-old son that his father is missing, Kevin told NBC News earlier this year. The boy, although just 3 years old when the accident happened, was already accustomed to his father traveling for work.

“Someday, we'll tell him that his father was a hero, that his father lost his life helping hundreds of other people to live," Kevin said. There is still a modicum of uncertainty about the find by Italian authorities, enough for a DNA test scheduled for this week. But after more than a thousand days of waiting, the Rebellos are happy to finally be making plans for a funeral. "India,” Kevin wrote on Facebook, "we are coming.”


— Tony Dokoupil