di Francesco Musolino
Grosseto, January 7 - Authorities are preparing to mark the first anniversary of the cruise ship disaster that killed 32 people on January 13, 2012. It's expected that as many as 900 people will gather on the pier of Giglio Island off the Tuscan coast to commemorate the deadly events after the Costa Concordia hit a rock that caused the massive ship to capsize. Mayor Sergio Ortelli says the focus of the service on January 13 will be the survivors and families of those who died in the disaster, as well as emergency workers who rushed to pluck victims from the water. Pieces of the rock upon which the Costa Concordia crashed have also been saved. But the story of the sinking is far from finished, as efforts continue to raise the ship and remove it from the waters around the island. That removal was initially expected to begin sometime this month, but an official of the salvage company recently said it may be June at the earliest before towing can commence. Italy's environment minister warned last month that delays in removing the beached cruise liner could lead to further environmental damage. Another outstanding element of the story is the legal proceedings involving Francesco Schettino, the captain at the helm of the ship. He is facing possible criminal indictment for multiple charges of manslaughter. Schettino is also claiming he was wrongly dismissed by Italy's Costa Crociere cruise line over the deadly accident. A wrongful dismissal hearing continues on Wednesday, as Schettino's lawyer argues the dismissal process used by the company was not legitimate.