Testing of a stabilisation system to salvage the wreck of the stricken Costa Concordia has begun off the Italian island of Giglio.
Some 500 engineers and divers from 21 countries have been active at the site 24-hours a day, seven days a week, assisted by 30 marine vessels.
The raising of the vessel, in which 32 people were killed when it struck a reef before capsizing in January 2012, is expected to take place in a month providing authorities are satisfied there are no safety concerns, Sky News reported.
Once afloat, a section of about 18 metres of the hull will remain submerged as the ship is towed away to be dismantled.
The budget for the project is reported to have reached €500 million.
The project is currently 77% complete and it is hoped it will be finished by winter, according to engineers.
Retrieval of fuel from the ship’s 15 tanks and collection of 240 cubic metres of waste water and sewage to prevent pollution, was completed earlier this year.
Senior salvage master Nicholas Sloane told the news service: “We have 100 divers in the water every day, we have 55 welders on the project 24-hours a day and 21 nationalities coming together – it’s quite remarkable what’s been achieved.”
The manslaughter trial of the ship’s captain Francesco Schettino, resumes on September 23.
Prosecutors allege Schettino steered the ship too close to shore, though he claims the reef did not appear on his navigational charts.
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