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Concordia 'vertical' after 19 hour mission

The crippled Costa Concordia cruise ship was pulled completely upright after a complicated, 19-hour operation to wrench it from its side where it capsized last year off Tuscany, with officials declaring it a "perfect" end to a daring and unprecedented engineering feat.

Shortly after 4 a.m., a foghorn wailed on Giglio Island and the head of Italy's Civil Protection agency, Franco Gabrielli, announced that the ship had reached vertical and that the operation to rotate it — known in nautical terms as parbuckling — was complete.

"We completed the parbuckling operation a few minutes ago the way we thought it would happen and the way we hoped it would happen," said Franco Porcellacchia, project manager for the Concordia's owner, Costa Crociere SpA.

"A perfect operation, I must say" with no environmental spill detected so far, he said.

Applause rang out among firefighters in the tent where Gabrielli and other project engineers made the announcement.

The Concordia rammed into a reef of Giglio Island on Jan. 13, 2012, after the captain brought it too close to shore. It drifted, listed and capsized just off the island's port, killing 32 people. Two bodies were never recovered.

About an hour before the rotation was complete, observers said the boat seemed to suddenly settle down upon its new perch.

The Concordia's captain is on trial for alleged manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the ship during the chaotic and delayed evacuation. Capt. Francesco Schettino claims the reef wasn't on the nautical charts for the liner's weeklong Mediterranean cruise.

The Canadian Press


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