Plans have been put in place to start removing the wreck of the Costa Concordia after it run aground with 4,200 people on board last month.
Costa Cruises confirmed last night that it has called for tenders from 10 specialist companies for the removal of the crippled vessel.
The company wants to make a decision by the end of March in order for work to start being carried out.
At least 32 people died in the accident off the Tuscan coast amid fresh allegations in the Italian media that a Moldovan woman who reportedly dined with the ship’s captain has now told investigators she was on the bridge when it ran aground.
Captain Francesco Schettino is under house arrest and has been accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship before all those on board were evacuated.
Costa has established a technical committee to draw up a salvage plan to remove the ship from its resting place on rocks off the coast of the island of Giglio.
“Costa Cruises is also working with the utmost commitment and speed on the plan to remove the ship itself, fully aware that this is a priority to protect the environment on Giglio and the island’s tourism,” the company said.
“Costa Cruises has called for tenders from 10 companies throughout the world to present a working plan to entirely remove the hull of the Costa Concordia.”
While the company aims to select a company to salvage the vessel by the end of next month, it added: “This timeline represents the best possible outcome in a situation of this kind, although it cannot be excluded that there will be delays given the complexity of the operation.”
There is no indication what will happen to the Concordia once it has been removed.
Meanwhile, attempts will be made to remove fuel and potential pollutants from the crippled ship “as soon as weather conditions permit”.