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Italy Seeks Millions in Concordia Disaster Damages

Officials for Italy's Tuscany region and the island of Giglio said on Monday they would seek a total of 220 million euros ($274 million) in damages from Costa Cruises, a unit of Carnival Corp, for the 2012 Concordia cruise liner disaster.

The Costa Concordia was carrying more than 4,000 passengers and crew when it struck rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio and capsized, killing 32 people.

The ship remained partially submerged near the port of the holiday island for more than two years before being raised and towed away this year in one of the largest and most complex maritime salvages ever completed.

"We will ask Costa for 30 million euros in damages to Tuscany's image," the region's president, Enrico Rossi, told a court in the Tuscan city of Grosseto, according to a statement.

Rossi said the region had registered a decline in tourism, and that Giglio had lost 45,000 visitors due to the disaster.

A consultant to Giglio's local government, Carlo Scarpa, asked the same court for 190 million euros in damages, most of it for tarnishing the island's image, according to a source present during the proceedings.

The two officials spoke during an ongoing trial against Concordia Captain Francesco Schettino, who is being tried for multiple charges, including manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship.

"To reconstruct the image of Tuscany as a top tourist destination will require years of work, substantial investments and costly national and international advertising campaigns," Rossi said.

Costa Cruises last year avoided a criminal trial by agreeing to pay a 1 million-euro fine to the Italian state, but victims and local administrations have pursued damages separately.

Shortly after the January 2012 shipwreck, Costa Cruises also agreed to pay about 11,000 euros to each of the more than 3,000 passengers for items lost and any psychological damages to passengers who suffered no physical injuries.

Sources involved in the trial say a verdict may be read during the first few months of next year.

Copyright Reuters 2014.