Costa Concordia wreckage removal held up

Project watchdog says scope of damage still unknown

Costa Concordia wreckage removal held up

Grosseto, July 12 - Removal of the half-sunk Costa Concordia that has been stranded off the coast of Tuscany since striking a rock formation in January 2012 may be frozen until next year unless the wreckage outfit responsible for the massive salvage job provides a slew of new clarifications to Italy's civil protection agency, the shipwreck's commissioner said in an interview broadcast on Friday. ''If they do not provide us with a whole range of assurances, the ship will remain in its current condition until next year when the weather conditions will permit rotating it back on its axis in absolute safety,'' Franco Gabrielli, the commissioner for the Costa Concordia emergency, told the RAI programme 'Uno Mattina Estate' (One Summer Morning). ''Despite the number of times the engineers have made simulations and hypotheses, we do not know the degree to which rocks have penetrated the side, what types of gashes they made and what the real conditions of the structure are, and thus the type of intervention they should undertake to allocate the caissons necessary to make the whole ship floatable,'' said Gabrielli, regarding progress made by the Titan Micoperi Consortium, tasked by Costa Cruises to remove the ship's carcass. Gabrielli last month said that, depending on checks, the ship could be righted from its current position this September and leave the Island of Giglio waters by November or March. The cruise ship hit a rock formation nearly a year and a half ago, claiming 32 lives, after an allegedly rash manoeuvre by captain Francesco Schettino to sail near Giglio Island to ''salute'' local people. It tilted onto its side and made salvage operations difficult. ''The ship's removal is a priority. First its removal, then its destination. My mandate is to remove this ship from Giglio,'' Gabrielli said in June.

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