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Final chains attached to Italy cruise wreck

A small boat with tourists passes by the refloated wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise ship on July 15, 2014 on the second day of the operation to remove the ship off the coast of Giglio Island
A small boat with tourists passes by the refloated wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise ship on July 15, 2014 on the second day of the operation to remove the ship off the coast of Giglio Island

The final chains were being attached to Italy's shipwrecked Costa Concordia on Tuesday, as salvage workers prepared to refloat and tow away the giant cruise liner later this week.

"We will continue attaching the chains to the ship during the night, and by tomorrow, we should be ready for the next stage of the salvage operation," Franco Porcellacchia, the chief engineer of the project, told journalists on the Tuscan island of Giglio.

"We will then begin lowering the sponsons into position," he said, referring to the huge tanks used to float the vessel by pumping in pressured air to expel the water inside.

The sponsons are expected to be in place by Wednesday night and the main operation to refloat the vessel is set to begin Thursday.

The Concordia, which crashed into rocks off Giglio in 2012, killing 32 people, should be ready to be towed to a port in Genoa in northern Italy by Monday at the latest, Porcellacchia said.

Salvage Master Nick Sloane told journalists crowding the portside that the week-long venture to raise and remove the ship was "going smoothly".

Ship owner Costa Crociere told journalists it could not confirm reports that one of the robot submarines known as Remote Operated Vehicles (ROVs) controlling the positioning of the cables underwater had been damaged during the operation.

On Monday, the 114,500-tonne vessel rose for the first time since the shipwreck, lifting around two metres (over six feet) off the artificial platform on which it has rested since it was righted in September.

Once the sponsons have been lowered into place, the liner will be floated another 10 metres or so, with each deck controlled for structural damage as it emerges.

Final checks will then be carried out before the Concordia is dragged off on its final Mediterranean journey to be scrapped in Genoa.

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