Up she Rises!

Costa Concordia finally budges after three-hour struggle to wrest it off reef... but £500million salvage operation may now not finish until tomorrow

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Stained by the sea and covered in rust these pictures give the first glimpse of the wrecked decks of the Costa Concordia as it gradually rises from the sea 20 months after it sank. 

In a £500m operation which began at first light this morning workers continue lift the stricken liner  from the spot where she has been lying for more than a year off the island of Giglio, Italy.

These remarkable images show progress of the work, marked out by the rust lines which cover all the parts of the ship which have remained under water.

By sunset the top deck was almost entirely above water but even so it is unlikely the ship will be seen upright until tomorrow morning. 

Despite engineers having freed the Italian cruise ship – after a three-hour struggle – from the rocks that sank it, they said this afternoon that it had taken longer than anticipiated meaning the cost of the salvage project – already the largest and most expensive ever attempted – might rise even further.

Engineer Franco Porcellacchia said: ‘It’s not about getting the job done, it’s about doing it correctly.  We have the tension on the pulleys correct and have got into a routine of pulling and making checks, and it’s going to plan even if it takes 15 or even 18 hours.’

The delicate operation to raise the 114,000-tonne ship without it splintering in two was delayed from the start after an electrical hit the Tuscan coast last night, pushing back from the shipwreck a floating command room where engineers are using pulleys and counterweights to nudge the giant liner free from its position on the sea bed just outside the harbour.

The storm pushed the salvage work, which was estimated to last up to 12 hours, back three hours, and then further delays were announced this afternoon.

By 4pm UK time, however, engineer Sergio Girotto said the crippled vessel had been tilted back 10 degrees, leaving another 55 degrees to go until it is vertical in the harbour.

He said the ship had initially resisted attempts to shift it from where it lay, just off the Italian island of Giglio until they applied 6,000 tons of force, and said that as it slowly tilted, a ‘major deformation’ of the submerged side of the ship could be seen via underwater cameras.

However Mr Girotto said the cameras did not immediately reveal any sign of two bodies that were never recovered from the 32 who died during the disaster.

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