UK & World News
Costa Concordia Wreck To Rise From The Depths
Testing of a stabilisation system to salvage the wreck of the 114,000-tonne Costa Concordia has begun off the Italian island of Giglio.
Mechanics are checking the strength and safety of metal cables they have built around the ship before they begin the ambitious task.
The remarkable feat of engineering is expected to take take place in a month providing authorities are satisfied there are no safety concerns.
Some 500 engineers and divers from 21 countries have been active at the site 24-hours a day, seven days a week, assisted by 30 marine vessels.
The budget for the project - which is taking place more than a year and a half after the disaster left 32 people dead - has reached ?500m (£421m).
Retrieval of fuel from the ship's 15 tanks and collection of 240 cubic metres of waste water and sewage to prevent pollution, was completed earlier this year.
Senior salvage master, Nicholas Sloane, said: "We have 100 divers in the water every day, we have 55 welders on the project 24-hours a day and 21 nationalities coming together - it's quite remarkable what's been achieved."
UK engineering firm Frugo Seacore will salvage and retrieve the wreck in five stages.
Once afloat, a section of about 18 metres of the hull will remain submerged as the ship is towed away to be dismantled.
According to engineers the project is currently 77% complete and it is hoped it will be finished by winter.
The manslaughter trial of the Concordia's captain, Francesco Schettino, resumes on September 23. The ship struck a reef, took on water and listed badly before capsizing off Giglio's port.
Prosecutors alleged Schettino steered the boat too close to shore, though he claims the reef did not appear on his navigational charts.