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Costa Concordia: Recovery of cruise liner continues
17 September 2013
Last updated at 07:45
The operation continues to raise the cruise liner which hit rocks off the coast of Italy in January 2012, killing 32 people.
Engineering officials in Italy say they have succeeded in lifting the cruise ship Costa Concordia free of rocks, 20 months after it ran aground. Efforts to right the ship, one of the largest and most daunting salvage operations ever undertaken, continued through Monday night and into Tuesday morning.
In the operation they used cables and metal boxes filled with water to roll the ship onto a platform. The ship was declared completely upright shortly after 4am local time (2am GMT) on Tuesday.
Franco Gabrielli, the head of Italy's Civil Protection Authority, said the vessel was now sitting on a platform built on the sea bed. Booms and nets were put in place before the operation started - to combat any pollution threat in what is a marine national park.
The vessel had been lying on its side since hitting rocks off the island of Giglio in January last year, killing 32 people. There were 4,200 passengers on board. Two people are still unaccounted for.
Captain Francesco Schettino is on trial accused of manslaughter and abandoning ship. The ship is now a rusty hulk, having spent more than 18 months partially submerged in water.
Companies Titan and Italian firm Micoperi will attempt to raise the cruise ship, in the largest and most expensive maritime salvage operation in history. The process called parbuckling rotates the vessel with a series of cables and hydraulic machines.
Engineers pushed back the start of the operation on Monday because of an overnight storm. The vessel still contains tonnes of rotting food, furniture, bedding and passengers' belongings, and environment contamination has been a constant risk.
One of the project's directors, Franco Porcellacchia, told the BBC: "This is a very delicate and unusual operation. Salvage teams do not have access to the inside, but we are working to prevent any substance from inside leaking. So far we have recorded no pollution".
The ship is considered beyond repair, so its final destination is expected to be a dry dock in Sicily, where it will be cut up. The salvage operation is estimated to cost at least 500 million Euros (£313 million), with predictions this could rise.
Earlier this year, five huge metal platforms were lowered to cradle the ship's 114,000 tonne bulk once upright. The salvage is expected to take at least two days. It must be done painstakingly slowly to prevent further damage.
In December 2012, the ship's funnel was removed to allow better access from the right-hand side. During the early phases of the operation, there were fears the wreck could slide into deeper water and sink completely, so divers have attached heavy steel anchor cables to stabilise it.
At the time of the sinking, the evacuation of the ship was slow and chaotic. There were claims of conflicting information between the captain, the ship's crew and the coastguard authorities. Captain Schettino has been charged with manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship before passengers were evacuated.
The captain went on trial in July and could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty. Five other senior crew members were found guilty of manslaughter in July and given sentences of up to two years and 10 months, but may avoid prison due to plea bargains.
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