Costa Concordia wreck raised from under-sea platform

Timelapse footage shows the first stages of the Costa Concordia being moved

The wrecked Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia has been successfully raised from the under-sea platform it has been resting on for the past year, salvage workers say.

The wreck - the target of one of the biggest maritime salvage operations in history - is now floating about 2m (6ft) off the platform.

In all, the refloating operation is expected to take six or seven days.

The ship will then be towed to its home port, Genoa, where it will be scrapped.

The Concordia struck a reef off the Italian island of Giglio in January 2012 and capsized, killing 32 people.

Workers are slowly lifting the vessel by pumping air into tanks attached to the ship. The wreck was hauled upright in September but was still partially submerged, resting on six steel platforms.

Costa Cruises CEO Michael Thamm: "The ship is afloat again"

The BBC's Alan Johnston at the scene said that by midday a weed-covered streak of the hull had become visible as the previously submerged part of the ship gradually rose above the waves.

Salvage workers cheered with delight as they returned to Giglio's port.

"The ship is upright and is not listing. This is extremely positive," the engineer in charge of the salvage, Franco Porcellacchia, told a news conference.

He said the sixth deck of the ship had begun to emerge on Monday, and once that was fully above water the other decks would become visible in quick succession.

"When deck three re-emerges we are in the final stage and ready for departure," he added.

Tugboats attached to the ship by cables have moved it a short distance away from the shore.

A search for the remains of Indian waiter Russel Rebello, whose body was not recovered from the wreck, is due to be carried out.

The Costa Concordia's owners, Costa Crociere, estimate the operation to remove the wreck from the reef and tow it for scrapping will cost 1.5bn euros (£1.2bn; $2bn) in total.

Salvage operation explained
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Water marks on the caissons connected to the Costa Concordia. 14 July 2014 The portion of the ship raised from the sea shows the evidence of more than two years under water
File photo: The Costa Concordia keeled over off Giglio island, 17 January 2012 The cruise ship capsized in January 2012, killing 32 people
The cruise liner Costa Concordia is seen at Giglio harbour, Giglio Island, 13 July 2014 The vessel was winched upright in 2013 but remains partially submerged

Earlier this month, police divers released underwater footage of the wreck

'Risks'

An engineer with Costa Crociere described the salvage efforts as "unprecedented".

"As with anything being done for the first time, there are risks. But we are confident," Franco Porcellacchia said.

Hundreds of divers and engineers have been involved in operations to salvage the Concordia, which is twice the size of the Titanic.

Towing the ship to Genoa - about 200 nautical miles (370km) away - is due to begin on 21 July and take about five days.

"The operation began well but it will be completed only when we have finished the transport to Genoa," Italian Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti told reporters on Monday.

Local residents have said they are glad the wreckage will be removed.

"I am happy they are taking it away because to see a ship like that always there, with the deaths that happened, it gives us the shivers," Italo Arienti told Reuters news agency.

The captain, Francesco Schettino, is on trial for manslaughter and abandoning ship, charges he denies.

How the disaster happened

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