(REUTERS – 30TH JAN) Search operations at the Costa Concordia resumed on Monday (January 30) after being suspended for a day due to weather conditions and some movement of the capsized cruise ship.
Rescuers are searching for the bodies of 15 people who are still missing after the ship hit rocks off the Italian island of Giglio on January 13.
Divers searching for bodies in the hulk, which lies half submerged a few metres from the shore, suspended work on Sunday (January 29) after heavy seas and strong winds caused the vessel to shift noticeably, authorities said.
“Operations have resumed,” said the Giglio Mayor, Sergio Ortelli on Monday morning.
“In the last few days, these operations normally have some interruptions due to sea conditions which are not suitable for these operations. But also due to the slight ship movements which have now reverted to normal, but when you have people who are operating inside the ship in conditions that you cannot even imagine – safety must be the priority,” he said.
Bad weather had already delayed plans to begin removing the 2,300 tonnes of diesel fuel in the ship’s tanks, an operation expected to take from three weeks to a month once it gets under way, probably by the middle of next week.
“You need weather and sea conditions which are particularly favourable because the barge, which is very large, needs to be extremely stable when put in contact with the ship,” Ortelli said.
Navy teams are inspecting the wreckage to see whether salvage boats can be brought up to work close to the ship.
The half-submerged wreck could remain where it lies until the end of the year or longer before it can be broken up or salvaged.
Salvaging or moving the ship cannot begin until the fuel and lubricating oil is removed and the risk of an environmental disaster is averted. Even after that, other preliminary work must be done before a company is awarded the salvage contract.
The Costa Concordia is slowly moving an estimated one millimetre every six hours which further hampers rescue and salvage attempts.