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Italian Coast Guard, ho, Associated Press
In this underwater photo released by the Italian Coast Guard Monday, Jan. 16, 2012 the cruise ship Costa Concordia leans on its side, after it ran aground off the tiny Tuscan island of Isola del Giglio, Italy. The Costa Concordia ran aground on Friday after colliding with a rock.

ROME — Italian naval divers have set off explosives to create four small openings in the hull of a cruise ship that grounded near a Tuscan island to speed the search for 29 missing passengers and crew.

Navy spokesman Alessandro Busonero told Sky TV 24 the micro-charges set early Tuesday created four openings to allow divers "to enter easily for the search." The holes were made both above and below the water level.

Television footage showed the holes to be less than two meters (6 feet) in diameter.

Busonero said the rescuers were racing against time. The cruise liner tragedy has turned into a potential environmental crisis, as rough seas battering the stricken ship raised fears that fuel might leak into pristine waters.