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Costa Concordia salvage operation set to begin

Giglio Island, Italy, Sep 16 (): Authorities have given the final nod for the go-ahead of a daring attempt on Monday to pull out the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise liner from its side in the waters off Tuscany, a make-or-break engineering feat that has never before been tried to move such a huge ship so close to land.

The ship overturned there 20 months ago and Italy’s national Civil Protection agency waited until sea and weather conditions were right on Monday before giving the final nod to continue salvage operation.

A statement given by the agency on Sunday said the sea and weather conditions were right for the salvage attempt. They stated the conditions, “fall within the range of operating feasibility.”

Never before have had engineers tried to upright such a huge ship so close to land. If the operation succeeds, the Concordia will be towed away and broken up for scrap.

Sergio Girotto, project manager for Micoperi – the Italian firm which has teamed up with US company Titan to raise the Concordia have warned the wrecked vessel will bend and suffer huge internal damage and metal inside will buckle during the operation, which is expected to last up to 12 hours.

Last Spring, salvage experts had hoped to upright the 115,000-ton vessel, but heavy storms troubled work. Now, the crews are trying to get the Concordia upright before another winter season bangs the ship against its rocky perch – damage that would increase the chance that it could not be towed away in one piece.

The Concordia crashed into a reef near Giglio Island the night of January 13, 2012, took on water through a 230-foot cut in its structure and overturned just outside the harbour. Thirty-two of the 4,200 passengers and crew members died. The bodies of two of the dead have never been recovered, and may lie beneath the wreckage.