Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Concordia cruise ship righted; search for bodies to begin

The recovery of the two remaining bodies on Costa Concordia will start “in the next few days,” Italy's civil protection commissioner Franco Gabrielli confirmed at a press conference following the successful "parbuckling" operation to right the cruise ship.

Once the half-submerged, but upright wreck has been deemed safe to enter, divers will start the search for the last two bodies of the 32 passengers and crew who perished when the ship struck a rock and foundered off the coast of the Italian island of Giglio.

Gabrielli has already spoken to the Italian Admiral in charge, Stafano Tortora, to approve the search for the bodies of an Italian passenger and a Filipino crewmember.

“We are going to look for these people as soon as possible; I hope this will start in the next few days,” Gabrielli told a packed press conference this morning on Giglio.

“Teams of divers are working on what inspections can be done on the ship. The corridors can now be inspected, and everything inspectable will be carried out by the divers.”

He added: “There will still be areas that that will not be easily accessible. This activity will start as soon as we are comfortable that the ship is safe.”

Divers will also attempt to recover the safe deposit boxes from each of the 1,500 cabins and return anything found to their rightful owners. A spokesman for Costa confirmed that the line would also attempt to return any other belongings found in individual cabins to passengers.

Costa Concordia was successfully righted in a 19-hour operation which concluded in today's early morning hours, before dawn. The ship is now sitting on an artificial seabed in about 100 feet (30 meters) of water.

The extent of the damage on the starboard side is now plainly visible, as is the discoloration of the hull from being immersed for more than 18 months in the sea. The funnel has been removed and only seven of the 13 decks are above water.

However, the ship has remained intact and the next phase of the recovery can now begin.

To prepare it for the region's typically rough winter seas, divers will strengthen the damaged area on the starboard side, add more steel cables to anchor the ship and then attach the ‘sponsons' -– or flotation devices –- to the port side.

Gabrielli emphasized that although the ship was in a much safer position than 12 hours ago, the project was far from over. Costa Concordia is expected to be floated and removed at some point in the spring of 2014.

Tuesday 17 September 2013



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