'Toxic ship' turns out to be WWI relic

Oct. 30, 2009 at 12:42 PM
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ROME, Oct. 30 (UPI) -- A sunken ship found off Italy's Calabrian coast was a World War I passenger vessel and did not have any toxic cargo, an Italian official says.

Environment Minister Stefania Prestigiacomo says authorities have determined that the wreckage discovered last month does not belong to a Russian vessel deliberately sunk by the mafia to conceal containers of radioactive waste, Italy's ANSA news agency reports.

"This is not a ship with poison on board but was actually a passenger ship, the Catania, which sunk in 1917 during World War I," Prestigiacomo announced Thursday.

The Catania, which belonged to a Genoese shipping company, was sunk by a German submarine off the coast of Cosenza in March 1917 while on a journey from India.

Italy's top mafia prosecutor Piero Grasso added at a news conference that extensive testing of the area turned up no sign of any radioactive contamination.

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