Costa Concordia passengers to receive 11,000 euros each in damages
The owners of the shipwrecked Costa Concordia have agreed to pay 11,000 euros (14,437 dollars) in damages to each of the passengers on board the cruise ship when it ran aground on January 13, Italy's main tour operator association said Friday, DPA reported.
Genoa-based Costa Crociere reached the agreement following talks with consumer associations, tour operator representative Astoi said in a statement posted on its website.
The sum would be paid out to each passenger irrespective of age and is meant to cover "any damage to property suffered, including those related to the loss of baggage and personal effects, psychological distress and the damage suffered by a ruined holiday," the statement said.
The deal does not cover passengers who died or suffered physical injuries.
Additional money would be made available to cover other costs incurred by passengers, including travel costs to the point where they boarded the vessel, any eventual medical costs and those for the journey back home, the statement said.
Around 3,200 passengers and some 1,030 crew members were aboard the ship on the night of the accident, which took place near the island of Giglio, off Italy's western coast.
To date, 16 people have been confirmed dead and around 20 remain unaccounted for.
One of Italy's main consumer groups, Codacons, slammed the agreement, describing the sum as "alms."
"It is a form of alms which passengers should absolutely not accept," Codacons President Carlo Rienzi was quoted as saying by the ANSA news agency.
Meanwhile, search efforts were continuing on the Concordia on Friday, with divers again using small depth charges to blast their way past furniture and debris blocking their path on parts of the half-sunk vessel.
Franco Gabrielli, the head of Italy's Civil Protection service, said Thursday he believed "there is no hope of finding anyone still alive" from the shipwreck.
The removal of thousands of tons of potentially hazardous fuel from the Concordia's tanks was also expected to begin on Saturday.
The Concordia's captain, Francesco Schettino, remains under house arrest while prosecutors seek to have him indicted on charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the ship.
He has reportedly admitted to veering the vessel off course, causing it to crash against rocks near Giglio. However, he insists he helped coordinate the evacuation, but was forced to do so from Giglio's docks after slipping off the listing ship into a lifeboat.