17 Sep 2013

Costa Concordia upright; no spill reported

4:04 pm on 17 September 2013

Engineers in Italy have succeeded in setting the cruise ship Costa Concordia upright, 20 months after it ran aground off the island of Giglio.

They said the unprecedented salvage effort had reached degree zero, meaning the ship was vertical.

In the operation, which took all of Monday and most of the night, cables and metal boxes filled with water were used to roll the ship on to a platform. The salvage project has cost more than €600 million.

The Costa Concordia capsized in January 2012, killing 32 people. The bodies of two of the victims of the disaster have never been found, and there are hopes they may be located during the operation.

No spill

A project manager for the Concordia's owner, Costa Crociere SpA, said no environmental spill had been detected.

Booms and nets were put in place before the operation started in an effort to combat any pollution threat in what is a marine national park.

More than 50 enormous chains and winches were used to break the ship - which at 114,000-gross tonnage is twice as heavy as the Titanic - away from the reef in a process known as parbuckling.

The procedure was carried out slowly to prevent further damage to the hull, which spent months partially submerged in 15m of water and fully exposed to the elements.

Officials plan to fully inspect the vessel and begin to prepare the next stage - the effort to repair, refloat and, eventually, tow it away to be destroyed.

Five people have been convicted of manslaughter over the disaster and the captain, Francesco Schettino, is on trial accused of manslaughter and abandoning ship.