Costa Concordia: Work to remove fuel completed

Technicians in a small boat pass near the stricken cruise ship Costa Concordia, 26 January
Image caption It is expected to take about a year to remove the ship itself

Work to remove fuel from the wreck of the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia has been completed, the Italian authorities announced.

More than 2,000 tonnes of fuel and sewage were drained from the ship which capsized after hitting rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio on 13 January.

There had been fears that pristine waters in the area might be polluted.

Thirty people died in the disaster and a further two remain missing, presumed dead.

The ship was carrying 4,200 passengers and crew when its hull was torn open by rocks.

Captain Francesco Schettino faces charges of causing the incident by steering the Costa Concordia too close to the island's shore, charges he denies.

The next stage of the salvage operation will involve cleaning up the sea bed and the area around the ship's hull before work begins to lift the wreck.

The removal of the Costa Concordia itself is expected to take up to a year.