The Costa Concordia, the gigantic cruise ship that sank off the Italian island of Giglio on Jan. 13, 2012, killing 32 people, has been brought upright after an unprecedented engineering operation, but now the problem is how to refloat it and where it will be taken to be scrapped.
With the sounding of sirens at 4 a.m. Tuesday, authorities announced that the operation to remove the ship from the rocks where it had run aground had been a success, despite the fact that it took several hours longer than originally planned.
The vessel weighs 44,600 tons, is 290 meters (951 feet) long and 70 meters (230 feet) high and is now in a vertical position supported on an underwater platform that had been constructed for that purpose months ago.
Some 500 people took part in the operation at a cost of 600 million euros ($801 million), with the shipping line Costa Cruises footing the bill.
The submerged portion of the ship - which had been resting for 20 months at a 65 degree angle on the rocks off the island of Giglio - is now exposed and appears to be completely deformed and dented.
For 10 hours, a type of hydraulic jack tightened the steel cables placed around the ship and the platforms set up on the left - or "port" - side of the vessel to raise it, while other cables were connected to 13 turrets built on the right - or "starboard" - side and balanced the ship.
The most uncertain moments in the operation came early on when the cruise ship was separated from the rocks and began to right itself.
Another big concern, particularly for the residents of Giglio, was the possible environmental impact the operation could have, but the president of the Environmental Observatory, Maria Sargentini, said that no spills of toxic waste materials had occurred from the repositioned ship and the region will not be hit with an "ecological bomb" as a result. EFE