Page last updated at 15:05 GMT, Friday, 25 September 2009 16:05 UK

'Two bodies' on mafia waste ship

By Duncan Kennedy
BBC News, Rome

Underwater image from wreck
Underwater image from the wrecked ship

Investigators in Italy examining a shipwreck containing possible radioactive waste say they may have found two bodies on board.

An underwater camera also showed pictures of orange barrels, with the word "toxic" on their side.

The boat lies in 500m of water off the south-western coast of Italy.

Officials say they believe the vessel may have been sunk by the Calabrian mafia as part of a racket to make money out of the waste disposal industry.

It was discovered after a mafia informant told the authorities he was involved in an operation to destroy vessels at sea containing radioactive and other waste.

Local prosecutors say it is possible some of the crew were either unaware of the intention to sink the ship or were deliberately killed by the mafia.

He says they will only know for sure once the ship has been recovered.

The mafia informant says he personally sank two other vessels and that he knew of at least 30 more ships sabotaged by the mafia.

The man, who is under house arrest, has told his interrogators that the toxic waste came from Italian and European pharmaceutical companies and the mafia was paid between $2m and $20m to sink the ships.

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