Salvage experts have succeed in raising the shipwrecked Italian luxury liner Costa Concordia from a temporary platform. The ship is to be entirely refloated before embarking on a final voyage to be scrapped.
Italy's Costa Concordia cruise ship on Monday floated for the first time since it crashed into rocks off the island of Giglio in 2012 in a disaster that cost more than 30 lives.
In what has become one of the biggest salvage operations in history, air was pumped into 30 large flotation tanks attached to the 114,500-tonne vessel, enabling it to rise two meters (6.5 feet) from the platforms which it has been resting on since September following another large-scale maneuver.
"The ship is floating and is well balanced. We're extremely pleased so far," Franco Porcellacchia, the chief engineer of the project, told reporters after the tricky procedure was completed.
The vessel, which is twice as large as the similarly ill-fated Titanic, is to be towed slightly away from the coastline for refloating operations to continue over the next six to seven days. Once the Costa Concordia has been completely refloated and final checks have been carried out, it is to be towed to the northern port of Genoa, where it will be scrapped.
On January 13, 2012, the Costa Concordia hit rocks near the island of Giglio and capsized, forcing many of its more than 4,000 passengers and crew to jump into the sea when lifeboat pulleys failed.
Thirty-two people died in the disaster, and one diver died in 2014 while working on salvaging the vessel.
The captain of the ship, Francesco Schettino, is on trial for manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship. He is fighting the charges.
tj/kms (Reuters, AFP)