Costa Concordia pulled upright after 19-hour operation | News | DW | 17.09.2013
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Costa Concordia pulled upright after 19-hour operation

Engineers have lifted the Costa Concordia from the water, successfully completing the biggest ever salvage operation for a passenger ship. The cruise liner ran aground off of Italy in January 2012.

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After 19 hours of strenuous salvaging operations, engineers were able to bring the Costa Concordia to an upright position.

"The ship has been settled on to its platform," Italian Civil Protection Authority chief Franco Gabrielli told reports in the early morning hours on Tuesday.

Television footage showed the long-submerged side of the ship now rusted and worn, shortly after the project reached completion around 4:00 a.m. local time (0200 UTC).

Delays hampered rescue efforts throughout Monday, beginning with an overnight storm that hindered engineers from working for some three hours. Later in the day, steel cables became tangled, halting for work for an additional hour.

Progress had slowed, but the project was being carried out "very carefully and safely," senior engineer Franco Porcellacchia told reporters as the project continued on Monday.

Officials said no toxic chemicals had leaked into the surrounding waters.

A number of tactics helped coax the 290 meters (951 foot) vessel off its side. Workers first used cables and pulleys to lift the Costa Concordia from the water, thus allowing water tanks attached to its exposed side to be used as counterweights to right the ship.

In January 2012, the ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, allegedly ordered a rash change of direction, causing the ship to run onto a reef off of the Mediterranean island of Giglio. Schettino faces manslaughter charges in the death of 32 passengers, plus two more presumed drowned.

Some 500 people and 26 countries have participated in the salvage efforts, which operator Costa Cruises (Costa Crociere) estimated cost about 600 million euros ($800 million).

kms/jr (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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