Costa Concordia salvage operation, live updates

Officials reported that the parbuckling process was “going to plan” after underwater cameras confirmed that the ship’s starboard side had become detached from the reef early on Monday afternoon.

“We are really pleased with the progress,” said Roger Frizzell of Carnival Corp, the American parent company of Genoa-based Costa Cruises, which operated the Concordia.

“After the delay caused by the bad weather it is nice to get back on schedule. Everything is going according to plan. The engineers are being very careful and they are doing a lot of checks. But they can continue into the night – as long as it takes.”

The attempt to raise the Costa Concordia cruise ship got under way at 8.00am UK time after a three-hour delay caused by bad weather.

Giglio, the Italian island where the cruise liner capsized 20 months ago with the loss of 32 lives, was hit by a violent thunderstorm overnight.

Divers who were working underwater on the hull of the ship had to be pulled out of the water, leading to a delay in preparations.

But the salvage effort finally got under way at 9am local time. The operation is expected to take up to 12 hours.

No bodies have yet been seen. Two of the disaster’s 32 victims have never been found.

The missing people are Russel Rebello, an Indian waiter, and Maria Grazia Trecarichi, a passenger from Sicily who was on the cruise to celebrate her 50th birthday.

“At the moment there are no indications (of the presence of human remains),” said Franco Gabrielli, the Italian official in command of the operation.

“It’s still too early to say (whether they will be found).”

The bodies could either be inside the hull of the ship or trapped between the hull and the seabed.

The 950ft-long ship, which weighs more than twice as much as the Titanic, is being gradually raised from the rocky shelf on which it is wedged with the help of massive steel cables and powerful winches attached to pylons sunk into the granite.

Giant steel boxes attached to the upturned, port side of the ship will help roll it over onto six steel platforms underwater, together covering an area larger than a football pitch.

Photo Credit: The capsized Costa Concordia cruise liner is pictured after the start of the "parbuckling" operation outside Giglio harbour. Tony Gentile / Reuters