Shipwrecked 'Costa Concordia' Salvaged After Two Years, Will Finally Be Towed Away
More than two years after it capsized in the Tyrrhenian Sea, cruise liner Costa Concordia was re-floated on Monday so it can finally leave its underwater home. Since last September, the shipwreck vessel was righted, but remained on an artificial underwater platform. Salvage workers pumped air into 30 tanks attached to the sides of the Concordia on Monday, raising the ship more than six feet off the platform so it can float.
The plan is to tow the Concordia back to shore. According to Italy's environmental minister, Gian Luca Galletti, the vessel will be taken to the Port of Genoa in northern Italy, about 200 nautical miles away. There, the Concordia will be broken down and used for scrap.
"The operation [Monday] began well, but it will be completed only when we have finished the transport to Genova," Galletti told the media.
"We are not at the end, but we are at a critical moment," Giglio Mayor Sergio Ortelli added to reporters.
Refloating the Costa Concordia has been a long and arduous process. Following the capsizing, the ship eventually settled on a rock ledge. Salvage workers had to carefully roll the 290-metre-long cruise liner off the ledge and onto the man-made underwater platform last September. On Monday, the workers expelled water from the inside of the vessel via air tanks. Cables from tug boats were attached to the ship so it could leave its temporary resting place.
The Concordia capsized in January 2012 after striking a reef near Gigilio Island, which is just off the coast of Tuscany in the Tyrrhenian Sea. The ship had just left the sea port town of Civitavecchia, embarking on a seven-day cruise around the Mediterranean Sea, including stops at Marseille, Barcelona, and Palermo, Sicily.
More than 4,000 people were onboard at the time. The disaster killed 32 people, and most passengers and crew were able to escape during the six-hour-long evacuation.
However, CNN reported that one passenger of the Concordia is still missing: 33-year-old Russel Rebello. He is the last remaining victim of the 2012 disaster whose body has never been found.
The Concordia's captain, Francesco Schettino, was charged with manslaughter and accused of abandoning the ship before everyone was evacuated. He was also charged with causing the shipwreck. Schettino, who is currently on trial in Italian court, has repeatedly denied the he abandoned his ship and crew.