The refloating operation of the wrecked Italian cruise ship, Costa Concordia, has begun making it the biggest ever maritime salvage attempt.
Reports emerged on 14 July that the wreck was successfully lifted from the artificial underwater platform in Isola del Giglio, Italy, and refloated about 1m off the resting structure.
Speaking during a news conference, salvage in-charge engineer Franco Porcellacchia said: "The ship is upright and is not listing either longitudinally or latitudinally. This is extremely positive."
The operation, which is expected to complete in six to seven days, will see Concordia being refloated by 2m and then towed 30m east on the first day.
After refloating, the ship will be towed to Genoa Port for scrapping and dismantling.
On 13 January 2012, the 114,000t Costa Concordia ran aground on the Tuscan island of Giglio off the west coast of Italy, killing 32 people. It was carrying 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members at the time of the incident.
Concordia was rolled upright using the parbuckling process in 2013, but remained partially submerged and has been resting on six steel platforms since then.
In April 2012, a salvage contract was awarded to a US-based Titan Salvage and an Italian firm Microperi, which specialises in underwater ship repairs.
The vessel, operated by Costa Cruises and built in Italy, was reportedly the largest and most luxurious vessel from the family of Costa Cruises, with a length of 290m and a beam of 36m. It has been in service since 2006.
Image: The wrecked Italian cruise ship, Costa Concordia, is set to refloat for the first time since sinking two-and-a-half years ago. Photo: courtesy of The parbuckling project.