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Experts start inspection of Concordia

People board ship for first time since hauled upright

23 January, 11:24
Experts start inspection of Concordia (ANSA) - Giglio Island, January 23 - A group of technical experts, judges and lawyers set off to board the Costa Concordia on Thursday for an inspection of wrecked ship.

The findings of the inspection will provide evidence for the trial of former captain Francesco Schettino, who faces charges of multiple manslaughter and dereliction of duty in connection with the Concordia's January 2012 shipwrecking off the Tuscan island of Giglio that led to the death of 32 people and the injury of hundreds more.

It is the first time the Concordia has been boarded since the successful outcome of a parbuckling operation in September to raise it from its semi-submerged perch off Giglio.

The first party inspecting the ship is made up of three judges, court-appointed experts, and lawyers and consultants representing the Concordia's owner, Costa Cruises. Other groups will inspect it later on Thursday.

The experts will inspect the bridge from where the course was set for the Concordia to sail too close to the Giglio, causing it to hit rocks and open a huge hole in its hull, and from where Schettino commanded the ship until it lurched over.

They are set to return to inspect the emergency generator at a later date, probably on February 27.

Consumer association Codacons and Schettino's defence had petitioned for the new survey.

The magistrates ruled that new evidence collection was warranted because significant areas of the ship have been made accessible by the righting operation. "I don't think we'll find anything different from what we already know," said prosecutor Francesco Verusio before the inspection.

"Anyway it's good to do this job because, up to now, the experts have only worked on paper. So the experts will be able to say if anything is different to what they have already reported". It was feared bad weather could cause the inspection to be delayed. But it went ahead despite rainy, wavy conditions.

The first group went to the ship on a police pilot boat and was able to board thanks to a floating support structure.

"Today we are giving all the sides in the trial the chance to see the bridge," said Admiral Giuseppe Cavo Dragone, the head of the court-appointed experts, while stressing the much information had already been obtained from the ship's black box.