x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Italian residents fear Costa Concordia pollution will put off tourists

Residents of the Italian island of Giglio voiced concern for their livelihoods after officials said it could take 10 months to remove the wreck of a cruise ship blighting the tourist hot-spot.

ROME // Residents of the Italian island of Giglio voiced concern for their livelihoods yesterday after officials said it could take 10 months to remove the wreck of a cruise ship blighting the tourist hot-spot.

The population on the Tuscan island swells from 800 to 5,000 in the summer months as tourists flock to swim, snorkel and dive in the crystal-clear waters, but islanders fear the beached ship and pollution risks may put off tourists.

Notices went up around the island yesterday calling for the creation of a "civic committee" to aid the island ahead of the summer season.

The risk of a fuel leak from the Costa Concordia into one of Europe's biggest marine parks would not only be environmentally disastrous, it would deal a heavy blow to restaurants, bars and hotels which thrive on tourism, residents said.

"If there is an oil spill from the wreck, it is going to bring the island to its knees. Not just the island but the whole of the Tuscan coast," the head of the island's tourism department, Samantha Brizzi, said.

Dolphin-spotting in the Tuscan archipelago's emerald waters has been replaced for now by day-trip tourists who come to photograph the vast luxury cruiser and the emergency crews swarming around the stricken vessel.

Technicians from the Dutch company Smit Salvage had planned to begin siphoning off the estimated 2,380 tonnes of fuel in the Costa Concordia's tanks over the weekend, but the operation was called off after the sea turned rough.

Italian navy frogmen meanwhile set off explosive charges to open more holes in the side of the cruise liner yesterday to allow divers access to deck five, an entertainment deck, as the search continued for bodies of victims of the disaster.

Seventeen bodies have been recovered, 15 remain missing.