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After languishing off the Tuscan island of Giglio for nearly two and a half years, the Costa Concordia cruise ship is finally to be towed away in July.
The 950ft-long liner, which capsized in January 2012 with the loss of 32 lives, will be taken to Genoa to be dismantled for scrap.
There had been fears in Italy that the wreckage might be taken to a port in Turkey, where the demolition job would be cheaper. Shipyards in Britain, France and Holland had also put in bids for the contract.
But Italian ports clamoured for the job, saying it would bring much-needed work to their employees.
The bid for the dismantlement, likely to cost around 100 million euros, has been a battle between Piombino in Tuscany, Palermo in Sicily and Genoa in the north-western region of Liguria.
Now the owners of the ship, Costa Cruises, have chosen Genoa, a decision likely to cause anger and disappointment in the other ports.
The technically complex operation to refloat the Concordia, which currently rests semi-submerged on a giant underwater platform, will take place between July 12 and 14.
Engineers will carry out checks on the battered hull, making sure that giant hollow boxes known as “sponsons” are securely in place.
“The first day of the refloat will be critical,” Nick Sloane, the South African engineer in charge of the salvage operation, told The Telegraph. “We’ll then start the tow around July 20.”
The ship will be towed by tug boats 150 miles north to Genoa.
“It should take four to five days,” said Mr Sloane. Dismantling the huge ship, which boasted casinos, jewellery shops, spas and a swimming pool, is likely to take at least two years.
The Concordia lay half-submerged in the shallows off Giglio until September, when it was carefully hauled upright in an operation lasting nearly 20 hours.
Capt Francesco Schettino is on trial for manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship in a court in Grosseto, Tuscany.
He has denied any wrongdoing, saying the rocks that the ship hit were not marked on his nautical charts and that his officers on the bridge misunderstood his instructions.
He was allegedly attempting a risky sail-past of Giglio when the ship hit rocky shallows on the night of Jan 13, 2012, gouging a huge tear in its hull.