Italian shipwreck - ecological time bomb

2012-01-16 20:23
Video

SA passenger relives ship disaster

2012-01-16 10:24

A South African couple swam for their lives after jumping four storeys when the luxury ship Costa Concordia ran aground off the Italian coast.WATCH

Giglio - Fears rose of an environmental disaster from a wrecked cruise ship in an area of outstanding natural beauty in Italy on Monday as hopes faded of finding any more survivors on board.

"This is an ecological timebomb," Sergio Ortelli, mayor of the picturesque Tuscan island where the luxury Costa Concordia liner hit underwater rocks and keeled over on Friday with more than 4 200 passengers and crew aboard.

Ortelli said there were 2 380 tons of fuel on the ship, which had just started its cruise when it ran aground. "This is the second worry, after human lives," he said, as crews began putting down anti-spill booms.

"I hope that the fuel can be taken off the ship soon and maybe the ship can be removed too because it is hampering navigation," he said.

"We are monitoring constantly but there has been no spill so far," he added.

At least 15 people were still feared trapped in the wreckage after the disaster which left at least six dead, including two French passengers and one Peruvian crewman who drowned jumping off the ship in a chaotic evacuation.

Famous for its sandy beaches and rustic charm, Giglio is a major holiday destination in the summer when the population swells from around 800 permanent residents to some 5 000 people and is dotted with exclusive villas.

The island is also a major marine sanctuary and popular for whale-spotting.

Local officials are calling for new rules imposing strict limits on navigation in the area and in particular an end to the practice of "showboating" when cruise ships file past close to the island.

Booms in place

The owners of the ship, Costa Crociere, have been instructed by coastguards "to remove the wreck of the ship and avoid any spill of oil into the sea," said Filippo Marini, head of the local coastguard press office.

"We are putting in place booms right now but so far there hasn't been any leak. There is maximum attention on the environmental problem. We are all working together to resolve this as soon as possible," he said.

Dutch firm Smit, one of the largest marine salvage companies in the world, told AFP it had been hired to pump out the fuel from the 114 500-ton wreck.

"The owner of the vessel has asked us to ensure that the oil is brought out of the vessel safely," said Martijn Schuttevaer, spokesman for Boskalis, Smit's holding company.

He said the operation was expected to start within days and that 20 workers from Smit would travel to Giglio on Monday to co-ordinate the operation.

A representative from US-based Titan Salvage, who was also on Giglio, said the contract could run into the millions of euros.

"They've been phenomenally lucky there's been no spill. If the hole in the hull had been four or five metres further along it would have punctured the tanks," he said.

"It's very close to the edge of much deeper water," said the man, explaining that the waves could push it off its resting place and it could sink entirely.

The fuel pumped out of the ship will be replaced by water in the tanks to ensure that the ship remained stable in a practice known as "hot tapping".

Nightmare

Environment Minister Corrado Clini meanwhile said that the environmental risk has been "our nightmare".

"The vessel has reservoirs full of fuel, it is a heavy diesel which could sink down to the seabed, that would be a disaster," he said.

In a worst-case scenario, the fuel could "leak into the sea, contaminating an exceptional coastline and affecting marine and bird life," he warned.

"We are ready to intervene if there is a spill," Clini said. "As soon as possible, the fuel will be removed from the vessel. But we have to take into account the precarious state of the ship."

Costa Crociere head Pier Luigi Foschi said on Monday the company had commissioned several firms to look at the best way to salvage the vessel.

He said the first priorities were pumping out the fuel and plugging the gash in the hull.

Foschi said he understood fears of an environmental disaster from leaking fuel oil, but stressed that there had been no signs of this.

- SAPA
Read more on:    costa  |  italy  |  cruise liner disaster
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

13 things you might not know about Disneyland
The craziest deaths of 2014
How to make this a sensual, sexy summer!
This is what South Africans Googled in 2014!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is so much going on around you and inside your head. You may want to take your ideas to the next level. Romance may be...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.