UK & World News

  • 27 July 2014, 14:39

Costa Concordia Completes Its Final Journey

The Costa Concordia has completed its final journey, after being towed into the Italian port of Genoa to be broken up and scrapped.

The cruise liner, around twice the size of the Titanic, struck rocks and capsized in January 2012 with more than 4,000 people on board.

The tragedy claimed 32 lives.

The damaged hull had been towed from the disaster site off the Tuscan island of Giglio to the northern port after a four-day, 175 mile (280km) journey.

The salvage operation, the biggest ever attempted, is expected to cost in the region of $2bn (1.17bn).

"We can finally breathe a sigh of relief," Italy's environment minister Gian Luca Galletti said.

There were fears the damaged hull would break up under the strain and spill toxic waste into Europe's biggest marine sanctuary, but these were unfounded.

The 114,500-tonne liner arrived overnight and weighed anchor around two nautical miles (3.6 miles) off shore.

Engineers then attached it to a number of tugboats, which manoeuvred into Voltri port at 11am UK time.

Curious locals gathered near the port on the outskirts of the city from first light to catch a glimpse of the battered ship.

The delicate operation of securing the ship is expected to be completed this afternoon.

Once the Costa Concordia is fastened in place, interior furnishings and fittings will be stripped out in order to make it light enough to tow into the scrapping area, where it will be split into three parts for dismantling.

More than 80% of it is expected to be recycled or reused.

Between 40,000 and 50,000 tonnes of steel will be melted down and reused for construction.

Undamaged copper wiring, plumbing, plastics, machinery and furniture will be recovered and sold on.

Any personal belongings recovered will be returned, while items such as the ship's piano, which was being played as the liner struck rocks, could end up in a museum.

Another task will be to search for the body of Indian waiter Russel Rebello, whose remains were never found and may have been trapped in a previously inaccessible part of the vessel.

The ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, is currently on trial for manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the vessel before all passengers had evacuated.

The 53-year-old, who is fighting the charges, is accused of deliberately altering the course of the Concordia in order to carry out a sail-by salute of the island to impress local residents and passengers.

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