United Nations cultural body UNESCO has urged the Italian government to restrict the access of cruise ships to World Heritage Site Venice in the wake of the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster.
In a statement, Paris-based UNESCO said it had called on the Italian government "to restrict access of large ships to culturally and ecologically important areas, particularly Venice and its lagoon which are visited by some 300 large cruise ships a year."
It said cruise liner traffic in Venice "is particularly damaging because of the fragile structure of the city.
"The ships cause water tides that erode the foundations of buildings. They contribute to pollution and impact the cityscape as they dwarf monuments in the heart of the city," UNESCO said.
The Costa Concordia had 4229 people on board from more than 60 countries when it hit rocks and keeled over earlier this month, prompting a chaotic evacuation that included a fight for life jackets and life boats among panicked passengers.
At least 15 people were known to have died in the accident as of Monday and 17 people were still missing.
Amid efforts to eventually pump out hundreds of tons of fuel remaining in the ship, environmentalists have warned of an ecological catastrophe in Europe's biggest marine sanctuary.