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Concordia wreckage still looms in Mediterranean, 18 months later PDF Print E-mail
Aug 01, 2013 at 04:14 PM

ImageAs Italians begin their long awaited summer vacation, residents of, and visitors to, beautiful Giglio island, are not at all happy. A year and a half after the massive Costa Concordia cruise liner foundered on its rocks, killing 32 people, the gigantic wreck is still lying on its side in the surrounding Mediterranean gulf. The original schedule called for its removal this September, and its dismantlement in either the port of Civitavecchia or that of Piombino, but it now appears that summer tides may prove too dangerous for the operation and that nothing may be done until early next year. 

The trial of captain Francesco Schettino began in July but was adjourned until September because of a one-day lawyers? strike. Five other people - four crew members and one company official -- were convicted for their role in the disaster after pleading guilty but their sentences were relatively light. So at the moment, people are thinking more about the effect of the shipwreck on the sea and the shoreline.

Despite the unceasing efforts of engineers working on the shipwreck, says Franco Gabrielli, director if Italy's Civil Protection Agency, it is still unclear to what extent the rocks on which the ship foundered are penetrating the hull and what is the overall condition of the ship's structure. One side of the ship, that hidden below the water, has never been seen or viewed by cameras and it is unclear what dangers there might be to local waters from substances inside. The fuel was pumped out of the ship shortly after its foundering on January 13, 2012, but there may be potentially dangerous detergents, rotting foods, and spoiling liquids that could create problems.

The mayor of Giglio, Sergio Ortelli, does not agree, saying that it would be equally risky to keep the 112,000 ton relic in the same position. If the 290 meter long Concordia were to become further embedded in the coastal rocks, it could become increasingly difficult to find a solution. Two bodies are yet to be recovered, so there are also mourning family members to think of.
And then, of course, there is the economic side. Last year, tourism in Giglio was down close to 30 percent and although some of this may have been due to the general economic downturn, many tourists may have decided they didn't want to be looking daily at this scene of destruction and death.

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