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Crews face test on Italy cruise ship

01-21-2012 08:45 BJT

GIGLIO - The vast wreck of the cruise ship Costa Concordia shifted on the undersea ledge supporting it on Friday, forcing a new suspension in rescue work and threatening plans to pump oil out of the vessel to prevent a possible environmental disaster.

Firefighters' spokesman Luca Cari said the rescue squads would be discussing the next step after the movement made conditions unsafe for the divers already hampered by poor visibility, floating objects and underwater debris.

Firefighters approach from the side of the Costa Concordia cruise ship which ran aground
off the west coast of Italy at Giglio island January 19, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

Seven days after the 114,500 tonne ship capsized off the Tuscan coast, hopes of finding anyone alive have all but disappeared and the cold waters around the ship have become rougher with worse weather expected at the weekend.

Attention is now turning to how to remove more than 2,300 tonnes of fuel aboard the vessel, which lies on its side on a rock shelf in about 20 metres of water off the little island of Giglio and which could slide off its resting place.

Salvage crews have been forced to wait by the search for survivors and bodies and only after that search is called off can they begin pumping the fuel out of the wreck, a process expected to take at least two weeks.

Environment Minister Corrado Clini told parliament on Thursday that he had instructed the liner's operator, Costa Cruises, to take all possible measures to anchor the ship to prevent it from slipping further into the sea.

"If the ship slides, we hope that it doesn't break into pieces and that the fuel tanks do not open up," he said.

Carabinieri's scuba divers inspect around the Costa Concordia cruise ship which ran
aground off the west coast of Italy at Giglio island January 19, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

Clini said there was a risk that the ship could sink to 50 to 90 metres below the rock ledge on which it is caught, creating a major hazard to the environment in one of Europe's largest natural marine parks.

Eleven people are known to have died out of more than 4,200 passengers and crew aboard when the ship struck a rock just metres from the shoreline, tearing a large gash in the side of the hull. As many as 24 are still unaccounted for, although that number probably includes bodies found but not yet identified.

A Carabinieri scuba diver inspects the Costa Concordia
cruise ship which ran aground off the west coast of Italy
at Giglio island January 19, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

Editor:Wang Chuhan |Source: China Daily

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