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Costa Concordia wreck

Costa Concordia: officials plan to begin pumping oil



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GIGLIO, Italy -Early Monday morning Italian officials were focussing on clearing hurdles so they could begin pumping some half a million gallons of fuel from the capsized Costa Concordia. Italy’s Civil protection are weighing whether “to halt the search so the pumping of the fuel could begin.”

The oil drainage operations on the ship, however, should start regardless of  the rescue operations since there is little hope to find other survivors. The cruise ship had 4,200 people aboard when it hit a reef and capsized off the coast of Tuscany on January 13. “At this point those who died will not come back to life. Even if they pull them out later, unfortunately it won’t make a difference,” a resident told the The Associated Press.

The national civil protection official in charge of the rescue effort met with technical experts Monday morning to determine if operations to pump the fuel could begin alongside with the ongoing search, or if it would present dangers to the divers. Franco Gabrielli was to meet later with prosecutors to discuss the implications of halting the search.

Dutch salvage company Smit has been ready for a week to begin pumping fuel from the tanks, awaiting only the go ahead. The Concordia has been precariously shifting on its side over the last few days and if the wreck continues to move it could “dropd off suddenly, by some 20-30 meters (65-100 feet).”

The oil removal, according to Italian authorities, could begin once ”a second absorbent boom is in place around the ship and following the arrival of an oil removal vessel, expected later Monday.”

Meanwhile, the Costa Concordia’s cruise captain Francesco Schettino said he “was instructed” by Costa Cruises – the ship’s operator – to carry out the move that killed thirteen people. The Guardian reports that Mr Schettino steered dangerously close to the shore “in a bid to salute the island of Giglio.” According to reports the salute was expected to take place a week earlier “but had to be postponed because of bad weather.”

Schettino has dismissed the accusations his company forwarded to him because “the ship’s operator not only knew” about the move but “insisted the captain carry out the maneuver to drum up publicity.” ”We do tourist navigation, we have to be seen, get publicity and greet the island,’” Schettino told the judge.

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