The first of 30 giant hollow boxes has been attached to the side of the stricken Costa Concordia cruise ship, as efforts intensify to refloat the vessel more than a year after it capsized with the loss of 32 lives.
The 395-ton compartment, known as a sponson, was welded to the hull of the 950-ft long cruise liner, which rammed into rocks off the Italian island of Giglio last January.
It had been towed to the island by a barge from the port of Livorno on the coast of Tuscany.
Fifteen of the huge steel boxes will be attached to each side of the Concordia.
The plan is to haul it upright with the use of jacks and cables and then refloat it with the aid of the compartments, which will be pumped full of air and act like arm bands.
The largest of the boxes weigh 500 tons and is the height of a 10-storey building.
The cost of the recovery operation has jumped from an initial estimate of $300 million (£196 million) to $400 million.
The ship will be towed away and broken up for scrap.
More than 400 divers, engineers and other experts from 19 countries, including Britain, are working round-the-clock to prepare the ship to be rolled upright onto an “artificial seabed” consisting of steel platforms and sacks containing 20,000 tons of cement.
It has emerged, meanwhile, that the maritime disaster is to inspire an all-singing, all-dancing Bollywood-style musical.
Filming, which will be produced by an Indian company, is to start within the next few weeks.
Local sensitivities mean that it will not be shot on Giglio but on one of the other islands that make up the Tuscan archipelago.
They include Elba, where Napoleon was exiled, as well as Montecristo, which inspired Alexandre Dumas’s classic The Count of Montecristo.
The film, which does not yet have a title, will be produced by Sri Mishri Productions, which is based in Chennai in Tamil Nadu in the south of India.
It will not strictly be a Bollywood movie – instead it is part of a genre known as “Kollywood”, a nickname that combines Hollywood and Kodambakkam, a neighbourhood in Chennai.
“It will be loosely based on the sinking of the Costa Concordia. It’s about a group of people who are stranded on an island after a shipwreck,” said Stefania Ippoliti of the Tuscan Film Commission, which is helping with the project.
“It will be very light in tone, nothing like the actual disaster. It’s going to be a romantic comedy, not a tragedy.” Filming is expected to begin at the end of May or in early June.
One survivor of the disaster, which happened on Jan 13 2012, welcomed the project.
“I think it’s wonderful. Bollywood is a well-loved storytelling form in India, just like Hollywood blockbusters or Broadway musicals are adored by American audiences,” said Benji Smith, an American who was on his honeymoon when the Concordia smashed into the island.
“As long as the story is told well, I think each storyteller should choose the narrative structure and medium that communicates most clearly with their audience.”
Mr Smith, a computer scientist from Boston, Massachusetts, wrote a book about the sinking of the luxury liner in which he described how he and his new wife, Hong Kong-born classical musician Emily Lau, thought they were going to die.
The book, Abandoned Ship – An Intimate Account of the Costa Concordia Shipwreck, was published in January, just days before the one year anniversary of the catastrophe.
A court in Grosseto is holding a series of preliminary hearings to decide whether to send to trial Francesco Schettino, the captain of the Concordia, on charges of manslaughter, abandoning ship and causing a maritime accident.
Five other officers could also be sent to trial. All deny any wrongdoing.
On Wednesday the Italian government requested from Costa Cruises, the Genoa-based firm that owns the Concordia, 37 million euros in damages for the harm the accident did to Italy’s international image.