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March 26, 2023

Costa Concordia in Italy freed from rocks

Engineering officials in Italy say they have succeeded in lifting the cruise ship Costa Concordia free of the rocks, 20 months after it ran aground, the BBC reports.
The salvage operation to right the ship, one of the largest and most daunting ever undertaken, is expected to last up to 12 hours.
The ship was detached from the rocks and moved on to a platform constructed on the sea bed, officials said.
Thirty-two people died when the cruise ship ran aground off the Tuscan coast.
The bodies of two of those killed in the January 2012 disaster have never been found. There are hopes that they may be found during the operation, although officials said on Monday there was no sign of them so far.
Engineers have never tried to lift such a huge ship so close to land. The ship could be seen emerging from the water as operators worked to hoist it upright. The Italian Civil Protection Authority said the sea and weather conditions had mostly been right for the attempt, but the operation had to be delayed by three hours because of an overnight storm.
The storm delayed the positioning of a barge carrying a remote control room close to the shipwreck. From that room, engineers were working using pulleys and counterweights to move the Concordia from the steep underwater incline it is resting on. Sergio Girotto, an engineer working on the project, told reporters on Monday the operation was going smoothly.
“Everything is going according to plan, we are following the plan to sequence… There is no problem whatsoever.” The ship capsized off the Tuscan island of Giglio in January 2012.
The vessel has been lying on its side ever since. Salvage workers are attaching giant metal chains and cables to the ship, which weighs more than 114,000 tonnes and is roughly the length of three football fields.
Five people have already been convicted of manslaughter over the disaster, and the ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, is currently on trial accused of manslaughter and abandoning ship.
The salvage operation had been due to begin at 06:00 on Monday. “Due to heavy storms tonight, the operation has been put back by two hours,” to 08:00 civil protection chief Franco Gabrielli said. The BBC’s Alan Johnston at the scene of the operation says that everything about the project is on a colossal scale.
More than 50 enormous chains and winches will be used to roll the ship – twice as heavy as the Titanic – up onto her keel.
By the end of Monday it should be sitting on a specially prepared underwater platform of steel and concrete. Our correspondent says that only after the ship is back up on her keel will it be possible to inspect it fully and begin to plan the next stage – the effort to repair and re-float it – and eventually tow it away to be destroyed.

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