Monday, January 16, 2012

IMO Secretary-General Calls for Investigation into Cruise Ship Accident

IMOA senior United Nations official today called for a thorough investigation into the incident involving the Costa Concordia cruise ship that ran aground off the coast of Italy over the weekend.  “In the centenary year of the Titanic, we have once again been reminded of the risks involved in maritime activities,” Koji Sekimizu, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), said in a speech to the agency’s Sub-Committee on Stability, Load Lines, and Fishing Vessel Safety.

Mr. Sekimizu expressed his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the tragic incident that occurred on Friday near Giglio Island.  Six people reportedly died and at least 16 are missing after the Costa Concordia’s hull was torn open after it ran aground. A total of 4,200 passengers and crew were on board the vessel, according to media reports. 

“Causes of this accident are still not yet established,” noted Mr. Sekimizu. “We must wait for the casualty investigation and should not pre-judge or speculate at this stage. “I would like to urge the Flag State administration to carry out the casualty investigation covering all aspects of this accident and provide the findings to the IMO,” he added.

Mr. Sekimizu voiced his appreciation to the Italian Coast Guard for their rescue operations over the night of the accident, adding that the IMO must not take this accident lightly.  “We should seriously consider the lessons to be learnt and, if necessary, re-examine the regulations on the safety of large passenger ships in the light of the findings of the casualty investigation,” he stated.

The International Maritime Organization, based in London, is the a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for measures to improve the safety and security of international shipping and to prevent marine pollution from ships. It is also involved in legal matters, including liability and compensation issues and the facilitation of international maritime traffic. It was established by means of a Convention adopted under the auspices of the United Nations in Geneva on 17 March 1948 and met for the first time in January 1959. It currently has 170 Member States. IMO's governing body is the Assembly which is made up of all 170 Member States and meets normally once every two years. It adopts the budget for the next biennium together with technical resolutions and recommendations prepared by subsidiary bodies during the previous two years. The Council acts as governing body in between Assembly sessions. It prepares the budget and work programme for the Assembly. The main technical work is carried out by the Maritime Safety, Marine Environment Protection, Legal, Technical Co-operation and Facilitation Committees and a number of sub-committees.

(mew)(Adapted from a UN Press Release with additional material from the IMO website)

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