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Italy extends emergency powers for Costa shipwreck
by Staff Writers
Giglio Island, Italy (AFP) Jan 11, 2013

Italy on Friday extended a series of emergency powers to deal with the removal of the Costa Concordia cruise ship wreck amid a row over delays in the salvage operation a year after the disaster.

A cabinet meeting presided by Prime Minister Mario Monti agreed that the extension to January 2014 was "necessary to guarantee the completion of complex operations for the salvage and transfer of the ship," the government said in a statement.

The Costa Concordia's infamous captain Francesco Schettino meanwhile told Il Messaggero daily that he was itching to be captain of a ship again.

"Commanding a ship is my secret dream, the passion of my life and something I can no longer do," Schettino said in the interview out on Friday.

Asked what was most bothering him at the moment, Schettino said: "The worst thing is not having anything to do while time flies. Then I'm anxious for the victims and what happened on the Concordia."

The Costa Concordia crashed into the island of Giglio and keeled over on January 13, 2012 with 4,229 passengers and crew from 70 countries on board in a disaster that claimed 32 lives.

Ahead of a commemoration ceremony on Sunday, a small group of protesters from environmental group Legambiente unfurled a large banner on the island reading: "Costa Discordia: Away Now!"

The salvage -- the biggest on a passenger ship ever attempted in history -- has been hit by a series of delays due to unforeseen technical difficulties.

A scheduled date of June for the refloating and towing away of the giant hulk has been put off until September at the earliest and local authorities say it could be later than that.

Giglio island is an area of outstanding natural beauty and a marine sanctuary and there have been fears over possible pollution from the wreck even though there has been little evidence of any so far.

"There have to be clear explanations for the continuous delays," said Vittorio Cogliati Dezza, head of Legambiente.


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