Emergency teams are battling to prevent the Costa Concordia from causing major pollution in one of the least spoilt parts of the Mediterranean.
There are fears that if the ship moves further down the rocks or sinks, fuel tanks may rupture causing a catastrophic oil spill.
High-tech equipment has detected movement of only a few millimetres an hour. It is not clear whether the sensors are detecting vibrations as the ship settles on the rocks, or whether the liner is being dragged off the reef.
Coast guard commander Ilarione Dell’Anna said they were verifying procedures to try to find ways to transfer the fuel safely through pipes to a tanker.
A specialist Dutch company has been asked to pump the fuel.
The huge operation is expected in the coming days and is likely to last at least two weeks.
By connecting a hot tap device and operating a series of pumps and valves, it is hoped almost 2,400 tonnes of fuel can be removed safely.
Failure could bring Italy’s worst environmental disaster in over 20 years.
The surrounding area features national parks and is one of the most important in the country for its landscape and wildlife.