Rescue operations on a capsized Italian liner were suspended indefinitely on Monday after the giant ship slipped on its rocky resting place, a firefighters' spokesman said.

There was a slippage of nine centimetres vertically and 1.5 centimetres horizontally. We evacuated immediately. This is something we have been worried about, spokesman Luca Cari said.

Operations are suspended. We will have to monitor the stability of the ship and we don't know when we will resume operations, he said.

A salvage expert on Giglio who asked not to be named said the ship was definitely moving.

He said the ship appeared to be held firm by points of rock which had pierced the hull, but with the rougher sea there was a risk it could break free, which he said would be a big problem.

Before the announcement of the suspension was made helicopters were seen lifting rescue workers off the ship.

(Reporting By Gavin Jones, writing by Philip Pullella; editing by Barry Moody)