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Future of Zakynthos Navagio Beach Uncertain After Shipwreck Damage

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Navagio (shipwreck) Beach, Zakynthos. Credit: Dronepicr/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

Questions have been raised over the responsibility of the famous shipwreck on Navagio Beach in Zakynthos after a surge of bad weather has further destroyed it.

Fears are growing over the condition of the tourism-driving shipwreck, with academics and local politicians calling for urgent measures to help retain the site.

A few days ago, the new mayor of Zakynthos, Giorgos Stasinopoulos, submitted a memorandum requesting a ministerial decision for the management of the beach zone and the foreshore of the wider area of Navagio to be transferred from the Tourism Ministry to the Municipality of Zakynthos.

Speaking to local media, Stasinopoulos said, “A person responsible for the boat must be found, because at the moment there is no one. If something happens, no one will be charged for the damage we will suffer not only here in Zakynthos, but throughout the country. At least 1.5 million tourists come in the summer to see the Shipwreck. Consider that they may not come because there will be no ship for them to see.”

The Future of Navagio Beach and Its Shipwreck

Professor Efthymios Lekkas, the president of Geology and Geoenvironment of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, has concerns about the salvaging of the beach itself.
“The ship created a jetty that prevented the sand from going to the bottom. Thus, within four to five years the beach grew, and what has been preserved until today was created. If the ship now disappears, the area will acquire the conditions that existed before and there will be no beach,” he stated in a recent interview.

Lekkas recommends closing the beach to the public for safety reasons. The wreck of the ship Panagiotis has been on the beach since October 1980, when the ship ran aground. Presently, the ship is half-buried in the sand, with its hull severely damaged and several other pieces washed up by the sea.

Navagio Beach and the shipwreck were temporarily closed to visitors in 2018 following a cliff collapse from above after a 6.8 Richter earthquake. In September 2022, a landslide occurred after a 5.4 Richter earthquake between Zakynthos and Kefalonia.

According to Greek news portal THEMA, there is a study being conducted in Zakynthos looking into what should be done with the remaining pieces of the ship. However, as the Mayor told the news site, “Right now our first concern is to save everything possible from the ship. The summer season must pass before any work can be done. Of course, what we will look at for this summer season is the safety of the tourists.”

“For reasons of protecting visitors from the seismicity of the area, the beach will remain closed and will be open to boats,” said the Mayor. “But for so many years that it was accessible to tourists, what was done was to get on the boat, take pieces for souvenirs, take pictures and then leave and go to nearby beaches to bathe.”

“So let them take a boat ride this summer too, take photos and leave,” he said. “No one respected the wreck. Even day boats were tied to the hull of the ship in order not to be swept away by the wave.”

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