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Costa Concordia sets sail on final journey Wednesday morning

(Reuters) - The massive hulk of the Costa Concordia is nearly ready to be towed away from the Italian island where it struck a rock and capsized two-and-a-half years ago, killing 32 people, officials said on Sunday.

The rusting prow of the once-gleaming white luxury liner was due to emerge fully from the water for the first time on Sunday, and the ship should be ready to tow on Monday, but the departure has been pushed back a day due to forecasts of rough seas.

Costa Concordia Makes Final Voyage

The 114,500-tonne Concordia has been slowly lifted from the sea floor since Monday, when salvagers began pumping air into 30 large metal boxes, or sponsons, attached around the hull.

The air has forced water out of the sponsons, lifting the cruise liner 7.5 metres off the undersea platform where it had been resting, Franco Porcellacchia, the engineer in charge of the salvage, said. There are 6.3 metres to go, he added.

A convoy of 14 vessels, led by the tug boat Blizzard, will then tow the Concordia to a port near Genoa, where it will be broken up for scrap, completing one of the biggest maritime salvage operations in history.

The president of the French Concordia survivors group Anne Decre, who is on the island of Giglio, told Reuters on Sunday that the departure of the ship will be an important symbolic moment for those who were aboard the night of the shipwreck.

"It gives us the opportunity to try and collect ourselves and move forward," she said, adding that the liner will take the same route to Genoa it should have taken more than two years ago to complete its ill-fated cruise.

"We hope that we will also be able to return to our route."

The ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, is on trial on charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck as he sailed too close to shore to "salute" the port, and abandoning ship. He is fighting the charges.

Paying for the disaster, including breaking up the vessel and repairing the damage to Giglio, is likely to cost the ship's owner and operator Costa Crociere, a unit of Carnival Corp, more than 1.5 billion euros ($2 billion), the company's chief executive has said.

The cruise liner will be demolished and scrapped in a port near Genoa by a consortium including oil services company Saipem and Genoa-based companies Mariotti and San Giorgio.

(Corrects euro-dollar conversion in penultimate paragraph on story published on Sunday)

(Reporting by Eleanor Biles and Silvia Ognibene; Writing by Steve Scherer; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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runswthscisors40 July 23 2014 at 9:46 AM

The US should buy it, to ship back all those illegals........if it sinks, so what?........

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alfredschrader July 23 2014 at 6:09 AM

Yes it's a sad tragedy but once they got everyone off of it, I would have removed it for free if they gave me clear title to it.
And not for $2 billion.
How ? With a barge crane and an oxy-acetylene torch. There's about 5 million dollars worth of copper and brass on that.

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3 replies
IN MY OPINION ONLY July 23 2014 at 6:11 AM

The Captian's still fighting the charges?

Simple solution: Drown him the way some of the passengers werre drowned?

Also The Captian is a coward for leaping off the ship early bird. While passengers were still on the ship.

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1 reply
fUK U IN MY OPINION ONLY July 23 2014 at 10:23 AM

no ! he " Fell off the Ship and landed in a Lifeboat " gawd, get yer facts straight....

roflmao !

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pepperoni0 July 23 2014 at 1:13 PM

There are still human remains within the bowels of this once illustrious cruise ship. This is so macabre.

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coopdabomb July 23 2014 at 2:49 PM

Maybe they can hire these people to keep obamacare from going to the bottom.

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is that you? July 23 2014 at 5:02 PM

I had no idea 32 people died. First news reports mentioned only a few I thought

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aguilamnstr July 23 2014 at 3:26 AM

Better late than never!

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1 reply
timalways aguilamnstr July 23 2014 at 5:51 AM

When is the trial for Captain Crush anad the chicken of the sea?

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jurmik July 23 2014 at 5:16 PM

Well done indeed who got it sailing again.

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Erbie's July 23 2014 at 5:43 PM

Salute Genoa? I thought Francesco Schettino was saluting his free riding girl friend? He WAS captain of a ship and I guess a captain can slip a "friend" aboard, wife may not like it but captain probably won't complain. He killed 32 people for his enjoyment.

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palovesr July 23 2014 at 11:53 AM

I don't understand the rationale of
spending $2 billion to recover and
scrap the vessel. What would the
scrap value be?????? Haven't
seen any figures on that.

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1 reply
MARCELLE NOSS palovesr July 23 2014 at 8:12 PM

Just another holdup by one company of another which is taking advantage of a mishap. That is how most companies roll, as do people.

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