Giglio (Italy), Sept. 17: In a costly, painstaking and potentially perilous operation, salvage workers raised the battered hull of the cruise ship Costa Concordia early today after removing it from two granite reefs where it ran aground just off this tiny island last year, killing 32 people.
The 19-hour, highly complicated salvage operation had managed to completely rotate the ship from a crazy angle on its side to the vertical, leaning it on an underwater platform built underneath, engineers said.
As the vessel slowly emerged, the full extent of damage to its hull when it capsized became apparent, as if a giant fist had driven into its flank, twisting cabins and staterooms out of shape.
As the ship was righted, ships’ horns blared over Giglio’s tiny port to celebrate the moment, and some of the island’s 1,500 residents hugged salvage workers as they came ashore from what is likely to be seen as a bold step towards redressing some of Italy’s anguish after the huge ship the length of three football fields careened into the reefs on a wintry night in January 2012.
“This was an important, visible step,” Franco Gabrielli, head of Italy’s Civil Protection Agency, said.