Specialist engineers are lifting the vessel by pressure pumping air into pressurised tanks retrofitted to the wreck. By Noon the wreck had been raised one metre free of the temporary supporting structure, bringing two more deck levels above the water line.
The refloatation is scheduled to take a full week. With the tanks providing bouyancy, the structure will be towed to its home port, Genoa, where it will be broken up and scrapped.
The Costa Concordia cruise ship operated by Costa Crociere, struck a reef off the Italian island of Giglio in January 2012, gashed open its side and capsized. Some 32 passengers lost their lives.
The wreck was put in an upright but much lower partially submerged position in September, resting on a lattice work of specially constructed platforms.
Franco Gabrielli, the head of the Italian civil protection agency commented:
"The first phase of the operation is the most dangerous, and very complex, because the vessel will be detached from the platforms."
JULIAN BRAY, Media, Aviation, & Travel/Cruise Industry Expert. Broadcaster & Journalist, Regional Politics, EQUITY, NUJ Life Mbr. UK Tel: 01733 345581 (isdn remote location kit available)