Turkey may win bid to dismantle Italy shipwreck

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The Costa Concordia was raised upright last September. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP
12:07 CEST+02:00
Turkey may clinch a bid to dismantle the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise ship, Italy's civil protection agency said on Thursday, adding that the decision on which port will be used will be taken in May.

Italian ports are fighting off competition from ports in Britain, France, Norway and Turkey for the contract to scrap the carcass of the vast Concordia, which sank off Italy in 2012, leaving 32 people dead.

While Norway would be the cheapest option, Italy has ruled it out because of the distance the crippled ship would have to transit amid fears of possible environmental damage en route.

"The Turkish solution would cost €29 million ($40 million)", while the Italian bids - from the Civitavecchia port near Rome, Piombino in Tuscany and Genoa in the north - are much more costly, civil protection agency chief Franco Gabrielli told parliament.

Civitavecchia, the closest port to the island of Giglio where the ship lies, has asked for €200 million to do the job, he said.

Piombino is not ready to take in the 290-metre (951-foot) long, 114,500-tonne vessel, but it would only take a day to drag it there if it could be prepared in time - while Genoa is ready but is five days journey away, he added.

The ship was hoisted upright from its watery grave in September in the biggest-ever salvage operation of its kind, following which the remains of one of two missing victims were discovered.

"We hope an Italian port will win" the bid, Gabrielli told a parliamentary environmental commission, "not least because we still have one body to find."

However, he said Turkey may be the best option for an operation which will be paid for by the ship's owner Costa, Europe's biggest cruise operator, which he said has already spent €1.1 billion on the salvage.

"We have not dismantled ships in Italy for the past 25 years. We take our military ships to Turkey" to be scrapped, he said.

A final decision on the port will be taken at the beginning of May, he said.

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Costa meanwhile has said the timetable for re-floating and towing away the ship may slip back from June to later in the summer.

"The timing is very difficult. We will do our utmost but it would be rash to say it will be removed by June," project manager Franco Porcellacchia was quoted as saying by Italian media.

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