'Concordia salvage could damage tourism': mayor

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The Costa Concordia was raised upright last September. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP
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The mayor of Giglio, the island off Tuscany where the Costa Concordia capsized in 2012, killing 32 people, has called for the removal of the wreck to be postponed until September in order to “safeguard the tourism industry”.

An operation to remove the wreck, which was pulled upright last September, is scheduled to get underway in June.

The rusting cruise liner has dominated the port of Giglio for more than two years, but the island’s mayor Sergio Ortelli has argued that the timing of its removal clashes with the onset of the tourism season, La Stampa reported.

He also lamented the “total lack of information” from the authorities over the timing and process of the removal operation, saying it could seriously impact tourism and had “made Giglio afraid”.

“We’re worried because June is a crucial time for our economy,” he was quoted in La Stampa as saying.

“It could be a serious inconvenience.”

Franco Gabrielli, the head of Italy’s Civil Protection agency, hit back, saying the mayor and other institutions have been aware of the schedule “for months” and also alluded to Ortelli using the appeal to ramp up support ahead of local elections.

Ortelli rejected the accusation, arguing that postponing the wreck’s salvage “made good sense.”

Dutch Royal Boskalis Westminster, the Dutch marine salvage company, was awarded the the €21 million contract to remove the ship late last year. The 114,500-tonne cruise liner will then be taken away to be scrapped.

Francesco Schettino, Costa Concordia’s captain, is on trial for charges of manslaughter and abandoning a ship, which could see him jailed for up to 20 years.

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Schettino, nicknamed by the Italian press as “captain coward”, returned to the wreck as part of the trial in February, during which he lambasted the “media frenzy” over the disaster and said people who accused him of abandoning the ship had not understood "a bloody thing".

READ MORE HERE: Captain slams 'frenzy' on return to shipwreck

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