The crucial phase of the operation to salvage the shipwrecked Costa Concordia cruise ship — flipping it upright — is now underway.
The ship has been lying on its side, half submerged and perched on two underwater mountain peaks, since it crashed in January 2012, killing 32 people.
At 9 a.m. this morning, workers in Italy began the “parbuckling” process, using pulleys and steel cables to slowly pull the 60,000-ton ship into an upright position.
Scroll down for a live stream and photos of the salvage operation.
If the process fails, there is no backup plan.
The ship will likely be disassembled where it lies, at huge cost to the local environment, a nationally protected marine park and coral reef.
At around 2pm local time, Titan Micoperi, which is conducting the operation, announced “evidence of a smooth rotation movement of the hull, with a consequent rotation of about 3 degrees.”
The parbuckling should take 10-12 hours, according to Reuters.
Over the past year, workers attached enormous, hollow steel boxes called sponsons to the exposed side of the Costa Concordia. If the ship is successfully parbuckled, more will be fixed to the side that is now submerged. Together, they should create enough buoyancy to keep the water-filled vessel afloat. Then it will be towed away and cut up for scrap.
The start of the process was delayed by about two hours due to strong thunder storms, according to the operation’s Twitter account.
The bodies of two victims were never located, and workers may find them once the ship is righted, according to NPR.
You can watch a live stream of the parbuckling process below, courtesy of Channel 4 News.
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