Large ships may be banned in Venice after Costa crash

 Venice, February 10 - Large cruise ships may be banned from passing through parts of Venice following the crash of the Costa Concordia cruise liner off the Tuscan Island of Giglio, Environment Minister Corrado Clini said Friday.

"This is one of the hypotheses we're working on," he said at a meeting with OECD officials in Venice. "In the meantime we should take precautionary measures to progressively reduce the risk". Clini added that his ministry was also considering alternative proposals from the Venice Port Authority, which opposes curbing traffic in the lagoon. The cruise industry employs thousands in and around Venice, which the local port authority claims is impervious to disasters such as what happened near Giglio on January 3 when a 114,500-ton cruise ship ran ashore and killed as many as 32 people. The proposed ban would apply to ships over 40,000 tons in the areas around the Basin of Saint Mark and the Giudecca Canal, Venice's main thoroughfare for cruise ships.

In May 2004, a German cruise ship ran aground in the Basin of Saint Mark just a few meters from the Doge's Palace, local daily La Nuova Venezia reported.

Environment experts note that long-term effects of modern lagoon traffic are also detrimental to the ecosystem, creating high wake along the medieval banks and disrupting the fragile foundations.(ANSA)

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