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Italian authorities give the green light to raise Costa Concordia

Italian authorities give the green light to raise Costa Concordia
If all goes to plan, the capsized Costa Concordia may soon be raised from its precarious perch off the island of Giglio. The operation to right the ship was given the go-ahead for this month by Italy's Civil Protection Authority during a meeting Friday in Rome.

Final authorization to proceed with the parbuckling is subject to the submission of all test certificates following inspections of the supporting structures and sponsons and the completion of preparations. All of this is expected by the end of next week.

At any time after that, as soon as the sea and weather conditions are favorable, the operation to rotate the wreck into an upright position can begin, the Civil Protection Authority said.

Friday's meeting was led by Emergency Commissioner Franco Gabrielli and attended by representatives of the Monitoring Observatory, the project's advisory committee, the Titan-Micoperi salvage consortium and Costa Crociere. The attendees contributed to the guidelines and instructions that the contracted firms are required to follow during the parbuckling. These were added to a final draft document.

The Civil Protection Authority said the decisions taken at the meeting spring from the continuous work and exchange of information and documents among the salvors and the Emergency Commissioner's Office, particularly its Monitoring Observatory.

Over months, the potential risks associated with the parbuckling were assessed and specific precautionary measures were taken. Comparisons were made between the risk of having the ship upright throughout the winter, exposed to adverse sea and weather conditions, or leaving the wreck in its current tilted position for the same period.

It was decided safer to raise the vessel now because another winter left lying at an 'unnatural angle' would possibly compromise the parbuckling if it were delayed until the spring.

The meeting also agreed on a weighty document dealing with management of the water inside the hull. Since early August, preliminary work has been proceeding to remove the water from some accessible parts of the ship.

As throughout the process, arrangements were also made to inform the population of Giglio about the latest developments. To this end, next week a meeting is scheduled on the island with Gabrielli, the Giglio mayor, the chairman of the Monitoring Observatory and representatives of the Titan-Micoperi consortium and Costa.

A few days after this, a news conference will be held to announce the likely date the parbuckling will commence, which is not yet known. The Civil Protection Authority said the conference will also provide details and logistical instructions so media can cover the story without hindering the work or officials involved in the operation.

Details of the parbuckling project are here.