Shipwrecked Costa Concordia Begins Expensive Journey to Scrapheap

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The shipwrecked Costa Concordia was successfully refloated Monday, more than two and a half years after it struck a reef, killing 32 people as it capsized with 4,229 passengers on board. 

The operation to float the massive cruise ship has not been easy: The Concordia has rotted since the disaster, and more than 24 metric tons of debris had scattered onto the seabed for crews to recover. Technicians managed to roll the 114,000-ton vessel off the rocks last September, and spent the next 10 months attaching metal boxes to either side of the ship. Engineers pumped compressed air into the boxes after draining water from inside to get the ship to float. 

During the refloating process, crews also moved the ship 20 meters (about 66 feet) in preparation for its towing to Genoa, where it will be scrapped. The operation will cost a total of $2 billion, according to Costa Crociere CEO Michael Tamm.

In the meantime, the ship's captain Francesco Schettino remains on trial on charges of manslaughter, causing a maritime disaster, and abandoning ship with passengers still on board. Schettino has denied wrongdoing, saying he fell onto a lifeboat instead of voluntarily boarding one. Five other crew members entered plea bargains in July 2013 and were convicted of manslaughter by an Italian court. 

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