Italy cruise wreck turned upright in unique salvage

Italy cruise wreck turned upright in unique salvage
Salvage crew looks at the capsized cruise liner Costa Concordia during the "parbuckling" operation, outside Giglio harbour.

GIGLIO ISLAND, Italy - Salvage operators in Italy lifted the Costa Concordia cruise ship upright from its watery grave off the island of Giglio on Tuesday in the biggest ever project of its kind.

The sound of ship horns sounded across the water in celebration, mixing with applause and cheers in the port in a climax to the 19-hour operation.

The 290-metre (951-foot), 114,500-ton vessel - longer than the Titanic and more than twice as heavy - rose from the sea like a ghost ship.

The side of the giant ship that had been underwater was rusty and brown 20 months on from the Janaury 13, 2012 tragedy, contrasting with the brilliant white on the exposed side.

"The parbuckling operation has been completed," said Franco Gabrielli, head of the civil protection agency and project overseer, using the technical term for the rotation.

Gabrielli said the newly exposed side would require "major repairs" and removal of the ship for scrapping is planned only for the spring of next year at the earliest.

Local residents and survivors spoke of an eerie feeling as the ship rose, saying it reminded them of the way the ship looked on the night of the tragedy that claimed 32 lives.

"Seeing it re-emerge is emotional for me," said Luciano Castro, a survivor who travelled to the picturesque island to witness the salvage.

"I could not miss it. That ship could have been my end and instead I am here to tell the story," he said.

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