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January 20th, 2012

Crippled Cruise Liner Shifts, Prompting Environmental Concerns For Italian Coast

Rescue operations again were suspended  Friday after the stricken Costa Concordia shifted in choppy seas off the Italian coast, increasing concerns about a possible fuel leak.

Eleven people have been confirmed dead and at least 22 are still missing after the cruise liner struck rocks and capsized off the coast of the tiny island of Giglio.

Also Friday, Italy’s environment minister proposed a new restriction on cruise liners that would ban the ships from getting closer to the shoreline that three miles.

Divers evacuated the vessel early Friday because of the risk that it would slide into deeper waters and take them with it. Italian naval officer Cmdr. Alessandro Busonero said the ship was shifting about an inch every two hours.

A Dutch salvage company is waiting to pump off the 2,300 tons of fuel and other pollutants from the ship, but operations will only begin once rescue efforts are declared finished. The salvage is expected to take several weeks. Boom has been placed around the vessel in an effort to contain any spillage that may occur.

The vessel’s captain, Francesco Schettino, remains under house arrest as prosecutors prepare charges of manslaughter and abandoning ship.

New evidence has suggested that the crew initially assured passengers they had no reason to be afraid — even after the vessel was taking on water. An amateur video from the cruise liner shows a crew member urging passengers to go back to their cabins, saying “as soon as we have fixed the electrical problem that we are having, everything will be calm.”

The cruise ship injury lawyers at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers  represent persons and passengers who have been injured in cruise liner accidents.

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