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State of emergency declared near Costa Concordia wreck

January 21, 2012, 0:23 UTC+3

According to experts’ forecasts, the effects of the shipwreck will take more than a year to eliminate

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ROME, January 21 (Itar-Tass) —— A state of emergency has been declared near the wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise liner near Gilio Island, as the risk of an ecological disaster is rather high. The decision was made at a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers on Friday, the government minister for relations with the Italian parliament, Piero Giarda, said.

The weather in the area of the shipwreck is unstable, which interferes with the search operation. The semi-sunken ship, lying on its side on the coastal reefs, is moving slightly, and as Environment, Land and Water Resources Minister Corradi Clini said, it may slide off and sink.

Alongside the search for 21 people listed as missing work is in progress to prepare for pumping out 2,300 tonnes of fuel from the full tanks. Specialists from the Dutch firm Smit Salvage have been invited to do the work. They say the tanks must be warmed up first to better the viscosity of fuel. Also, ecologists fear the water area around the island may be polluted with many toxic materials on board.

According to experts’ forecasts, the effects of the shipwreck will take more than a year to eliminate. It has not been decided yet what is to be done to the hull of the ship – if it will be taken apart on the site, or restored to the vertical position and tugged to Gilio. According to the latest speculations, it may be sunk.

The luxurious liner Costa Concordia was on a Mediterranean cruise with 4,300 passengers and crew on board, when it run aground late in the evening on January 13 due to the captain’s mistake and negligence. Eleven people are known to have died, but the confirmed death toll may rise.

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