Thursday January 10, 2013
Italy wreck survivors asked to stay away from ceremony
ROME: The owner of Italy's shipwrecked Costa Concordia cruise liner, has advised survivors not to travel to Giglio island for a ceremony to mark the one-year anniversary of the disaster, citing logistical challenges.
In a letter sent this week to the 3,200 passengers who were aboard the ship the night of the January 13 tragedy in which 32 died, Costa Crociere described Sunday's ceremony as "a moment dedicated to the families of those who are no longer with us."
"We are certain that you will understand the impossibility - for logistical reasons - of welcoming you all onto the island that day, and the desire for privacy expressed by the families of the victims at such a difficult moment," read the letter, obtained by AFP in French.
The letter has sparked anger in some quarters, particularly among a French group of survivors who say many of those on board were left traumatised and have a right to take part in the ceremony.
Costa "has had an inhumane and unacceptable attitude from the start," said Anne Decre from the French Survivors' Collective, which plans to travel to Giglio on Sunday in spite of Costa's plea "They tried to buy our silence buy offering us 100 euros ($131) to go to Paris" instead, one of a dozen places around the world holding parallel ceremonies to mark the anniversary.
"The islanders understand us. We want to come also so we can thank them for what they did that night," she said.
In the letter, Costa said it "sincerely shares the pain and sadness" of all those caught up in the disaster, which occurred when the ship ran aground off the island and toppled over, forcing people to jump into the freezing water in the dark.
The Collective was also angered by an initial decision to put all survivors who did not lose loved ones on the last ferry back to the mainland, before the moment of the crash is marked at 2045 GMT by a minute's silence.
The island has since agreed to put on a special ferry service at the end of the evening. - AFP