By Federico Cornetto
Over 300 yachts and boats are being retrieved from the seabed where they were left after a massive storm sunk.
Throughout January, efforts have been made to rescue vessels dragged to the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea after a violent storm hit the coastal Italian towns of Rapallo and Santa Margherita Ligure on October 29 2018.
Even though nobody was injured, the 12-metre-tall waves caused hundreds of expensive yachts to become detached from their moorings and scattered in the waters close to the shoreline.
Among the sunken crafts were those belonging to Pier Silvio Berlusconi, the son of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and Egyptian business magnate Mohamed Al-Fayed.
According to local filmmaker and reporter, Gianni Risso, the network of companies that is taking care of the retrieval operations aims to get the wreckages back from the waters by May 2019, when the bathing season will begin.
Gianni, who captured some underwater footage of the sunken ships, said: “It was a real miracle that nobody was injured, even though the storm destroyed hundreds of boats and also part of the towns’ quays.
“Luckily, it got the most violent at night, when everyone was indoors also because of the red alert.”
On December 3, 2018, five companies got together to start clearing the area – which is a very touristy one in the warmer seasons – from the sunken boats.
The companies are Italsub and Drafinsub, specialised in underwater operations, and Giuseppe Santoro, Oromare spa and Tito Neri, which operate port machinery such as cranes, tugboats and pontoons.
Gianni said: “These five companies are working together quite efficiently and they have already retrieved over 150 boats.
“Some of these boats will be repaired and they’ll be functioning again, other are just complete wreckages, and all that can be done is clear the waters from their remains.
“These sea towns had seen many a storm, but this was something unprecedented.
“When we woke up the morning after the storm and realised what damaged had been caused, we were in shock.
“Even older people and fishers do not recall a disaster of this magnitude.
“It’s incredible that no one was injured.”