Cameras sent down to investigate vessel appear to show human remains

Underwater footage of the sunken ship that could contain nuclear waste.

By Michael Day in Milan

Pressure is growing on the Italian government to act over revelations that 30 or more ships with radioactive cargoes, deliberately sunk by the Mafia, may be polluting the Mediterranean.

The Calabrian region in the south of the country last night threatened to bypass Rome and petition the European Commission directly for help in dealing with the potential environmental disaster, while in another development investigators said that human remains may have been found on one ship – raising the possibility of a murder inquiry.

Silvestro Greco, head of the region's environment agency, lambasted the response by ministers to the apparent discovery of one of the missing toxic waste vessels, the Cunsky, 18 miles off the Calabrian coast.

"It has been 11 days since the boat was found and there has been not a single sign from the government," he said. "We do not believe this silence is normal."

Mr Greco added that "the entire Mediterranean, from the Adriatic to the Tyrrhenian sea and from the Strait of Sicily to the Aegean" could be threatened by sunken waste ships. "Cleaning and removing the load will be particularly complex in terms of cost, given the vast area involved," he said.

Sebastiano Venneri, vice-president of the environmental pressure group Legambiente, told The Independent there were fears that leaking radioactivity may already have been absorbed by plankton. If that is the case, there is a risk that it will make its way into the food chain. …

The possibility of a murder inquiry also arose last night after it emerged that cameras sent down to investigate the Cunsky appeared to show human remains aboard.

Bruno Giordano, the public prosecutor for the Calabrian coastal town of Paola, told The Independent: "It appeared to show what were two human skulls. Obviously this will have to be investigated as well. As will claims that there are 30 or more other vessels out there in the Mediterranean." …

Skulls found on Mafia ship laden with toxic waste

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