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The cruise liner Costa Concordia is seen at Giglio harbour ahead of it being towed away on July 15, 2014. (ALESSANDRO BIANCHI/REUTERS)
The cruise liner Costa Concordia is seen at Giglio harbour ahead of it being towed away on July 15, 2014. (ALESSANDRO BIANCHI/REUTERS)

Engineers fasten chains to tow away Costa Concordia wreckage Add to ...

Engineers were securing the final chains to the Costa Concordia on Tuesday, preparing the wrecked luxury liner to be towed away from the Italian island where it sank 2 1/2 years ago, killing 32 people.

The 114,500 tonne Concordia ran aground off Giglio island in January, 2012, and has been stranded there ever since as engineers set up one of the biggest maritime salvage operations in history.

AP Video Jul. 14 2014, 11:49 AM EDT

Video: Costa Concordia prepared for towing after successful refloat

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Now the rusting hulk of the once-gleaming white ship, more than twice the size of the Titanic, is on course to leave the Tuscan coast on July 21, engineers said at a press conference.

“Work has proceeded all night, still 4 chains to be connected,” the wreck removal project organisers said on their official Twitter feed at around midday.

The vessel, which struck rocks after sailing too close to the shore, was righted in a complex “parbuckling” operation last September, leaving it resting on an underwater platform.

On Monday, air was pumped into 30 large metal boxes, or sponsons, attached around the hull. The air forced water out of the sponsons, lifting the boat 2 metres off the platform.

Tug boats then heaved the boat – owned by Costa Crociere, a unit of Carnival Corp about 30 metres from shore, readying it to be towed north to Genoa to be broken up for scrap.

The ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, is on trial accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship. He is fighting the charges.

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