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Venice cruise ship ban suspended

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© ANSA

Venice, March 17 - A regional administrative court
on Monday accepted a request to suspend restrictions on large
cruise ships passing through Venice.
The request had been submitted by Venezia Terminal
Passeggeri, the organization that runs the Venice port, as well
as several companies active in the port and a committee
representing cruise operators.
The court said alternative routes for the ships have yet to
be determined.
The suspension lasts until a June 12 hearing on the issue.
Last November the government of ex-premier Enrico Letta
ordered a halt to large cruise ships passing through the
Venice lagoon, effective from November 2014, and a limit on
smaller cruise vessels effective in January.
The regulation came in response to the crash of the
Costa Concordia cruise ship in early 2012, which killed 32
people off the coast of Tuscany.
Similar regulations had been imposed earlier throughout the
rest of Italy, where the cruise industry plays a smaller role in
the local economy.
Environmentalists warn that the lagoon surrounding Venice,
itself a UNESCO heritage site, is at great risk due to its
fragile ecosystem.
Other experts warn that the thousand-year-old underwater
wooden piles that prop up the city would crumble like toothpicks
under the weight of a 114,500-ton cruise ship like the Costa
Concordia.
In addition, liners ushering tourists into the heart of the
city disrupt the extremely fragile foundation of Venice and its
medieval monuments by displacing massive amounts of water in the
shallow lagoon.
Over 650 cruise ships pass through the city annually.
The new provisions would tighten daily limits on cruise
liners, with no more than five ships over 40,000 tonnes allowed
passage, obliging many ships to find alternative docking outside
the city itself.

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