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See Inside Scientific American Volume 309, Issue 2

Crippled Cruise Ship, Costa Concordia, Haunts Italians of Giglio

Island residents cannot forget "the families who came to get the bodies of their loved ones"

Because the ship is a crime scene—Schettino is charged with manslaughter and abandoning ship—the Italian authorities will first get possession of the ship for at least 60 days to complete their investigation. Then the cabins will be emptied out and the individual room safes returned to the passengers who were on the cruise that fateful day.

Wracked By Time

Until the Concordia is raised, Mayor Ortelli can only wait and hope. He spends his time pacing up and down the port and studying project charts, as well as keeping a watchful eye on Sloane’s salvage operation through binoculars. He counts the days the salvage crews have lost to weather, marking them off on his desk calendar. “We can never really move on as long as the wreck is out there,” Ortelli says. His computer is filled with intricate illustrations of the massive operation outside his window. He has memorized the details of the elaborate plan, able to sketch illustrations of the technical procedures on a napkin at the local coffee bar when residents ask for an update about what is happening on the ship. Ortelli lives and breathes the wreck of the Concordia, and he insists that the salvage team hold bi-weekly meetings with the townspeople to apprise them of the evolving situation. Sloane gladly obliges. Many of his crew members have taken up residence on the island, and more than a few salvage men are dating Giglio women.

Indeed, Giglio has largely given itself up to the process. The port’s main hotel, the Demos, has been taken over to house the operational center for the Costa cruise company and the entire salvage operation. Costa has rented every room in the hotel until the ship is out of the harbor—however long it takes. Ironically, Ortelli used to own the hotel but sold it a dozen years ago since it only made money in the summer months.

Ortelli doesn’t believe the ship will be gone any time soon. He predicts the salvage team is at least six months behind schedule, despite Sloane promising that he will be home in South Africa by September to go golfing. After that Sloane will go on another job, but Ortelli doesn’t know how the island will ever recover. “We are now synonymous with the worst passenger shipwreck in modern history. It is not possible to return to life before this happened. ”

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