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UNESCO asks Italy to limit cruise ships in Venice

UNESCO asks Italy to restrict access to big cruise ships in Venice, a World Heritage Site By The Associated Press

ROME (AP) ' The U.N. cultural organization has asked the Italian government to restrict access of big cruise ships to Venice in the wake of the grounding of the Costa Concordia.

In a letter sent to Italy's environment minister on behalf of UNESCO's director general Irina Bokova, the agency said Tuesday the big ships cause water tides that erode building foundations, pollute waterways and dwarf monuments in the city.

It says some 300 cruise ships a year visit the lagoon city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Concordia capsized off Tuscany on Jan. 13 after the captain veered from his approved course and gashed the ship's hull on a reef. So far 16 bodies have been found. Operations are under way to begin pumping the half-million gallons of fuel that risk leaking.

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