Service In Memory Of Costa Concordia Dead

Relatives of the 32 people who died when the Costa Concordia ran aground will mark a year since the disaster with a series of events near the rusting wreckage.

A service will be held at the church on the island of Giglio, where many of the survivors were treated after they were forced to abandon the listing ship after 9pm on January 13, 2012.

The 952-foot-long cruise liner, which is twice the weight of the Titanic, hit Le Scole reef after the captain sailed within a few hundred yards of the island.

Captain Francesco Schettino is under investigation for manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the vessel before all the passengers were evacuated.

He remains under house arrest, but has not been formally charged.

The ship had 4,252 passengers and crew and was on a six port cruise when the captain decided to stage a “sail-past” to honour a retired seaman who lives on Giglio, off the coast of Tuscany.

Captain Schettino insists the cruise company had permitted the route on several other occasions, and that his actions in steering the stricken ship onto an underwater ledge spared the lives of many others.

Today’s commemoration will include a symbolic launch of lanterns into the sea at the moment the ship hit the rock which gouged a 230-foot gash in the hull.

A plaque will be added to the recovered boulder which will then be returned to the seabed.

Some survivors, who were offered 11,000 euros compensation by Costa Cruises, were asked not to attend today’s event because the small island is already crowded with victims’ relatives and media.

Many are now seeking civil claims against the American parent company Carnival.

The operation to right the ship is now running over budget and behind schedule because of the enormous technical challenges faced by the salvage team.

Over 400 engineers are planning to attach giant metal floats to either side of the ship – some 11 storeys high – before using a series of pullies to slowly stand the vessel.

She will then be towed to a port, possibly in Sicily, where it could take two years to dismantle the ship and sell remnants for scrap.

The salvage cost, to be mostly covered by insurance payouts, has now risen by \$100m over \$400m and is described as the biggest operation of its kind ever attempted.

The delay has been caused by environmental fears, the hard nature of the bedrock, and the position of the ship which must now be slowly shifted on its axis.

It should be refloated by the end of September at the latest.