Engineers in Italy have succeeded in setting the cruise ship Costa Concordia upright, 20 months after it ran aground off the island of Giglio. They said that the unprecedented salvage effort “reached degree zero [vertical], which was our target”.
In the operation that took all of Monday and most of the night, they used cables and metal water tanks to roll the ship onto a platform.
The Costa Concordia capsized in January 2012, killing 32 people. The bodies of two of the victims of the disaster, by the island of Giglio, have never been found. There are hopes that they may be located during the operation.
Months of work lie ahead, assessing and repairing damage to the ship, before it can be towed away to be destroyed – probably next spring.
The ship was declared completely upright shortly after 04:00 local time (02:00 GMT) on Tuesday. Franco Gabrielli, the head of Italy’s Civil Protection Authority, said the vessel was now sitting on a platform built on the sea bed. “A perfect operation, I must say,” said Franco Porcellacchia, leader of the technical team for Costa Cruise, the owner of the ship.
He added that no environmental spill had been detected so far – one of the main aims given the pristine waters of the marine sanctuary in which it capsized. “I think the whole team is proud of what they achieved because a lot of people didn’t think it could be done,” said salvage master Nick Sloane.
When the vessel was finally righted in the early hours of Tuesday morning, there was a giant cheer from people gathered at Giglio harbour, says the BBC’s Matthew Price, and rescue workers have been out celebrating with coffees.
As daylight broke, the now-upright, brown hulk of the ship was visible – its hull muddy and crushed from 20 months spent submerged on its side.