VIAGGI & TURISMO - Rassegna Stampa Estera
martedì, 24 gennaio 2012
martedì, 24 gennaio 2012
Crews prepare to pump thousands of tonnes of oil from Costa Concordia as 16th body foundGIGLIO, Italy — Salvage crews expect to begin pumping thousands of tonnes of fuel from the wrecked Costa Concordia by Saturday, officials said, as divers found a 16th body on the giant Italian cruise liner, which capsized off the Tuscan coast over a week ago.
As the salvage preparations began on Tuesday, divers found the body of an elderly woman wearing a life jacket, bringing the total number of bodies recovered so far to 16.
At least 16 more people are missing on the 290-metre long vessel, which lies half-submerged on its side just outside the tiny island port of Giglio. Nine victims have been identified and the identities of seven others are so far unknown.
Dutch salvage company SMIT brought a barge carrying defueling equipment alongside the giant hulk as divers worked on installing external tanks that will be used to hold more than 2,300 tonnes of diesel that must be pumped out of the Concordia.
Navy explosive experts also blasted a hole into the submerged third deck of the ship to allow divers to continue the search of the vessel after the bodies of two so-far unidentified women were found on Tuesday.
“While this operation is underway, rescue efforts are continuing simultaneously,” fire services spokesman Claudio Chiavacci said.
Authorities have been increasingly concerned at the threat of an oil spill in the marine reserve where the accident occurred but work on removing diesel and lubricant oil has been delayed by the search for survivors and bodies.
Preparations to begin pumping the oil are expected to take several days and the actual work of removing the fuel from the giant liner’s 17 fuel tanks will take another 28 days.
The head of Italy’s Civil Protection Authority, Franco Gabrielli, said pumping would probably not begin before Saturday.
“Anything before that would obviously be welcome,” he added.
Officials dismissed reports that oil had started to leak out of the ship, saying that monitoring equipment had shown no significant pollution spreading from the wreck. A thin film of oil had spread in the water but posed no serious threat.
Gabrielli said he had asked the ship’s owners Costa Cruises to produce a plan to clean up the pollution from general debris around the vessel by Wednesday.
As the work on Giglio continued into a second week, magistrates investigating the accident are expected to extend their inquiries, with attention increasingly focused on Costa Concordia’s operators.
The ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino has been blamed for the accident on January 13 and placed under house arrest, accused of multiple manslaughter and abandoning ship before the evacuation of more than 4,200 passengers and crew was complete.
But his lawyer said on Monday that the investigation would be extended to other officials of Costa, a unit of the world’s largest cruise operator Carnival Corp.
Costa said on Tuesday it had not been notified that it was under investigation but would cooperate fully with investigators and had full confidence in magistrates.
There was some confusion on Tuesday about the status of toxicological tests on Schettino.
His lawyer said on Monday that the tests had proved negative but Carlo Rienzi, the head of consumer protection association Codacons, which has declared itself a civil party in the case, said drugs tests would be carried out in Rome on Thursday. He said no test for alcohol was planned.
In interviews, the company has placed the blame for the accident squarely on the shoulders of the 51 year-old Schettino, who told investigators he brought the ship close into shore to perform a maneuver known as a “salute” to the island.
How far Costa knew about or even encouraged such maneuvers has been disputed but there are also questions about when Schettino informed the company of what had happened after the ship was holed by a rock.
Schettino’s lawyer has said his client is ready to assume his share of responsibility for the accident but he has said he was in constant touch with Costa’s command centre during the including the evacuation of the ship.
A U.S. lawyer said Monday the Costa Concordia had earlier cruised recklessly close to other islands to impress passengers.
Mitchell Proner of New York law firm Proner & Proner, which is planning to file a class-action suit in Miami on Wednesday on behalf of passengers in the disaster, said the ship owner would be a main target of the lawsuit.
“At this point we’re exploring numerous defendants; certainly you’ve got [ship owner] Costa Cruise lines,” Proner told AFP.
“While they might be trying to indicate that the incident is the fault of this one rogue captain, we know that they’ve had some precedents going close to these islands along the Italian coast,” he said.
He said the same ship had earlier cruised dangerously close to the island of Procida in the Gulf of Naples.
“Procida set up mortars and saluted and the Concordia responded by blasting their sirens. So this is something that they have done in the past as a way of generating publicity and advertising for their company,” he said.
“It’s thrill-seeking for the passengers, but it’s reckless.”
Proner & Proner is teaming up with Italian consumer rights’ association Codacons and another New York law firm, Napoli Bern Ripka Shkolnik, to lead the lawsuit on behalf of victims in the January 13 shipwreck, which occurred after the vessel moved too close to the shore of the island of Giglio.
Proner said they would likely file the suit on behalf of all victims on Wednesday in Miami, home base of Carnival, the giant U.S. cruise ship operator which owns Costa Cruise lines.
They would seek at least US$160,000 for each of the victims.
“If they sustained injury it can be a multiple of that number. If they have a disability as a result of the incident and certainly in the cases of fatalities, we’re expecting in excess of a million euros per individual.”
He said they would also be examining whether the equipment on board the vessel designed to prevent such accidents had failed or were disengaged.
On Monday, it emerged that the ship’s owner, Costa Cruises, a division of Carnival, the largest cruise ship operator in the world, is offering survivors a 30% discount off future cruises.
The move is the first obvious effort to limit the corporate damage done by the shipwreck, the result of a failed nighttime sail-by in which the ship was gashed by a rock, then beached to facilitate rescue, only to topple over on the rocks when the tide went out.
But with people still missing, and the rescue operation complicated by the question of unregistered passengers, the offer was criticized as “insulting,” by one British survivor.
The Daily Telegraph also reported that the Florida-based company had been telephoning survivors “asking if they are suffering nightmares or sleepless nights,” which are the hallmark symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
With files from Agence France-Presse
© Thomson Reuters 2012