Shipwrecked Concordia hauled upright off Italy
GIGLIO ISLAND, Italy (AP) — Engineers declared success on Tuesday as the Costa Concordia cruise ship was pulled completely upright during an unprecedented, 19-hour operation to wrench it from its side where it capsized last year off Tuscany. The remarkable project now allows for a renewed search for the two bodies that were never recovered from the 32 dead, and for the ship to eventually be towed away.
The Concordia's submerged side suffered significant damage during the 20 months it bore the weight of the Concordia on the jagged reef, and the daylong operation to right it stressed that flank as well. Exterior balconies were mangled and entire sections looked warped, though officials said the damage probably looks worse than it really is.
The damage must be repaired to stabilize the ship so it can withstand the coming winter, when seas and winds will whip the liner, and be towed to be turned into scrap sometime in 2014.
Shortly after 4 a.m., a foghorn boomed off Giglio Island and the head of Italy's Civil Protection agency, Franco Gabrielli, announced that the ship had reached vertical and that the operation to rotate it — known in nautical terms as parbuckling — was complete. It was a dramatic operation that unfolded in real time as TV cameras recorded the final hours when the rotation accelerated with gravity pulling the ship into place.