Work to the refloat the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise ship will likely begin on Monday after Italian authorities gave the green light for the next step in the largest maritime salvage in history to begin.
Raising the 290-metre hulk from underwater platforms next to the Italian island of Giglio where it sank killing 32 people, should take six or seven days, the group organising the removal said.Then it is due to be towed to the northern port of Genoa where it will be scrapped.
The government's Civil Protection Department said that documentation submitted for the refloat of the defunct luxury liner was "valid", allowing it "to give the go-ahead for the operation.
The ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, is on trial accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship. He is fighting the charges.
Haunting footage from inside the sunken luxury cruise ship shows furniture and passengers' personal belongings frozen in time.Read the full story ›
The Italian captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship that crashed in 2012 and killed 32 people has returned to the ship for the first time.
Francesco Schettino is accused of leaving the liner before all its passengers were taken off the ship, and has returned to the wreck as part of his manslaughter trial.
Schettino has already accepted some responsibility, but denies abandoning the ship after it hit a reef near the island of Giglio.
Schettino maintains he managed to steer the stricken vessel to shallower water closer to shore, avoiding potentially hundreds of deaths.
"They want to show that I am weak, just like two years ago. It's not true. I want to show I'm a gentleman, not a coward," Italian media quoted him as saying.
An Italian court convicted five others of manslaughter in July 2013.
A diver working on the wreck of the Costa Concordia died after getting trapped by an underwater metal sheet.
The man, a Spanish national, was preparing the wreck for removal when he cut his leg on the metal sheet and was unable to get free, La Nazione reported.
The diver, who worked for the Spanish company UCS (Underwater Contractors Spain), was rescued by a colleague, who brought him to the surface of the water, but the man later died.
He was involved in an underwater operation when the incident occurred, an official at salvage firm Titan Micoperi confirmed.
The death marks the first fatality in the salvage operation of the Concordia since it capsized off the Italian island of Giglio two years ago, killing 32 passengers and crew.
One Briton and one Irishman have been arrested on suspicion of illegally boarding the Costa Concordia to search for souvenirs, Italian police sources said according to The Sunday Telegraph.
The men, who have not been named by police, were among four salvage workers who are alleged to have boarded the stricken vessel late on Thursday night.
The two other men arrested are South African nationals. All four men are employees of salvage firm Salvage Consortium Titan-Micoperi, which is working to shift the Costa Concordia from the rocks off the Italian island of Giglio.
They are believed to have been caught by CCTV monitoring an off-limits area of the ship.
The cruise ship was subject to a parbuckling operation in September, with the vessel successfully raised from its side.
A woman who was on the bridge of the Costa Concordia cruise liner with its captain when it capsized last year has told an Italian court she had been his lover.
Domnica Cemortan had previously denied any affair with Captain Francesco Schettino, who faces multiple charges including manslaughter.
Cemortan has described Schettino as a "hero" and has said he deserved gratitude for bringing the ship nearer to shore rather than letting it sink out at sea.
Some 32 people died when the boat hit a reef and partially sank in January 2012, off the Tuscan island of Giglio. It had been carrying more than 4,000 passengers and crew.
The recovery of human remains believed to be the last two missing bodies from the Costa Concordia cruise disaster is "almost a miracle", Italian authorities said.
The submerged remains were found after 20 months under the weight of the 114,500 tonne vessel, which capsized after striking rocks in January 2012, killing 32 people.
The head of the civil protection agency Franco Gabrielli told reporters the remains discovered today were "absolutely consistent" with the two missing people, an Indian man and an Italian woman.
Divers have spotted human remains near the shipwrecked Costa Concordia off an Italian island, the Associated Press reported.
Authorities say DNA tests will determine if the remains belong to two victims whose bodies were never found.
A Italian official said relatives of the two victims -- a female Italian passenger and a male Indian waiter -- were notified after divers saw the remains this morning.
A satellite image of the newly-righted Costa Concordia cruise liner can be seen on Google Earth.
It follows a successful salvage operation in which the vessel was shifted from the rocks off the Italian island of Giglio.