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Costa Concordia Salvage Operation Continues As Anniversary Of Tragedy Approaches

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COSTA CONCORDIA
The ship ran into disaster in January last year | AP

The recovery of the sunken Costa Concordia cruise liner - which has been described as the largest sea salvage operation in history - is continuing in Italy on the eve of the anniversary of the tragedy which cost the lives of 32 people last January.

The ship, operated by Italian company Costa Crociere, crashed into rocks off the Isola del Giglio on 13 January last year with 4,000 passengers and crew on board.

The man leading the operation, Nick Sloane, told reporters on Saturday that the effort could be completed by September.

A 400-man team are attempting to right the ship, which sits half-submerged on reefs, before using enormous flotation aids in order to tow the ship away.

costa concordia

The Costa Concordia off the Isola del Giglio

The ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, ordered the ship off-course, and it strayed too close to shore, where rocks gashed a 70-metre breach in the hull, causing it to roll on its side on 13 January last year.

Schettino, who was placed under house arrest in Italy, but denies responsibility for the tragedy, recently spoke of his "enormous regret" over the turn of events.

Three weeks after the disaster, search and rescue missions to the ship were called off, by which point the full horror of the death toll had become apparent.

One year on, many survivors still suffer from the traumatic experience. One Italian family are still too afraid to approach boats, many remain in therapy, while others are still experiencing flashbacks and anxiety from the disaster.

costa concordia cruise ship schettino

The ships' disgraced captain, Francesco Schettino

On Sunday, a memorial service is planned to remember the events of last year and the lives of those killed on the ship. Survivors have been asked not to attend, for fears of overcrowding on the small island.

"We are sure that you will understand both the logistical impossibility of accommodating all of you on the island, as well as the desire for privacy expressed by the families at this sorrowful time," a letter to families from the Costa chief executive Michael Thamm, seen by the Associated Press, said.

In addition, the solicitor acting for the company said that they hoped families would understand the predicament:

Costa attorney Marco De Luca said it only made sense to limit the numbers on the island, which opened its doors to the 4,200 shipwreck victims who came ashore that frigid night. "The presence of thousands and thousands of people would create logistical problems – good sense would say you take note of that," he said.

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