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Friday 19 September 2014

Costa Concordia to be towed away - two years and eight months after crash

Published 19/06/2014 | 20:48

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A young couple consoling themselves
The cruise liner Costa Concordia is seen during the "parbuckling" operation outside Giglio harbour January 11, 2014. Thirty massive tanks filled with air will lift the hulk of the Costa Concordia off the seabed in June so it can be towed away from the Italian island of Giglio where it capsized two years ago, officials said on Friday. The 114,500-tonne vessel hit rocks on Jan. 13, 2012, killing 32 people. It was hauled upright in a complex "parbuckling" operation in September but still rests where it capsized, just outside the holiday island's small port. Refloating the Concordia will be one more phase in the largest maritime salvage in history. Where the ship will be dismantled - the final step - has yet to be decided. REUTERS/Max Rossi (ITALY - Tags: DISASTER TRANSPORT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
The cruise liner Costa Concordia is seen during the "parbuckling" operation outside Giglio harbour.
The stricken Costa Concordia cruise ship remains in the water while  a team of experts go to inspect the wreck of the ship
The stricken Costa Concordia cruise ship remains in the water while a team of experts go to inspect the wreck of the ship

The wrecked Costa Concordia will be towed from the island of Giglio by the start of August – two years and eight months after it crashed into rocks with the loss of 32 lives.

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Some reports suggest, however, that islanders are concerned that the complex operation to remove the huge wreck will necessitate the closure of Giglio’s ferry service – thus strangling the tourism trade for a week near the peak of the summer season.

The final decision on when to begin the delicate task of towing the wreck will be decided by sea conditions. This week La Repubblica newspaper said that, based on past weather conditions recorded by ISPRA (Institute for Environmental Protection and Research), authorities believed that any day between 13 July and 8 August might be chosen. Figures suggest that on these dates the vessel would be less likely to meet waves higher than 2ft while it is towed to the mainland.

The 290m, 13-deck liner was restored to an upright position after a successful parbuckling operation last September.

The owner, Costa Cruises, will scrap the ship, but it is not yet certain where it will be dismantled. The port of Genoa is thought to be most likely; a final decision on whether or not to send it there is due by 26 June. If Genoa’s bid to scrap the vessel is turned down, the Concordia might go to the rival Tuscan port of Piombino.

Today, the governor of Tuscany, Enrico Rossi, continued campaigning for Piombino, noting that Genoa was five times further away. “It will take five days to get to Genoa and one to Piombino. Five-day weather forecasts are not reliable,” he said.

Engineers have said they will use a robot to monitor residual fuel in the ship’s tanks to prevent any leaks during the removal operation.

According to Greenpeace, however, there is no place to safely dispose of the Concordia in Italy, where it would take at least two years to build a naval demolition basin. It has also been suggested that the vessel could be scrapped abroad; Turkey has been suggested as one possible destination.

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