The final phase of the operation to refloat the wreck of the Italian cruise ship the Costa Concordia has begun.
Engineers say the first few hours are the most critical in what is the largest maritime salvage in history.
The liner was hauled upright last September onto a specially constructed platform. The next stage will see it towed to its home port of Genoa and scrapped.
The process involves pumping air into 30 giant box-like compartments that have been welded to the Costa Concordia’s hull, forcing out sea water and raising the vessel by around 13 metres.
On the eve of the final salvage phase, Italians living on the island of Giglio gathered to remember the 32 victims of the Costa Concordia tragedy.
Locals plus maritime engineers and government officials took a moment to reflect on the evening of January 13, 2012 when the giant liner ran aground.
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