Vandals break finger off Concordia memorial

Vandals break finger off Concordia memorial
The statue was donated by sculptor Umberto Togni as a memorial to the victims of the cruise ship tragedy. Screengrab: YouTube
Police have launched an investigation after vandals broke off the left index finger of the Stella Maris, a marble Madonna statue commemorating the victims of the Costa Concordia tragedy on the Tuscan island of Giglio.

The statue, which was donated by sculptor Umberto Togni and commissioned by the residents of Giglio, was unveiled on May 12th during a ceremony. 

It was erected to commemorate the 32 people who died when the Costa Concordia cruise ship crashed into a rock reef on the island with 4,252 people on board on January 13th 2012.

The damaged statue was discovered by Argentino Pini, a retired commander in Giglio, according to local news site Giglio News.

“Yesterday morning I went to the jetty to say a prayer to the Madonna Stella Maris and when I looked up I realized that she was missing a finger on the left hand, cut clean off… I didn’t want to believe my eyes,” Pini told the paper on Thursday.

The island’s mayor Sergio Ortelli, told Info Toscana that the statue would now be repaired as soon as the town hall makes an agreement with the sculptor.

Last Friday a salvage coordinator confirmed that the cruise ship, which still lies keeled over off the Tuscan island of Giglio will finally be raised up in September.

The raising of the Concordia had been programmed for September 2012 but was then delayed to May 2013 and then put off again because of technical difficulties.

"If things go as we are expecting. I think September will be the month of the rotation," prefect Franco Gabrielli told Italian news channel SkyTG24, declining to give a precise date.

As the police search for witnesses to the statue vandalism, residents on the Tuscan island are considering protecting the statue with grating to prevent any further incidents. 

The incident comes just a few weeks after an American tourist accidentally snapped a finger off a 600-year-old statue in Florence's Galleria dell'Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore.

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