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Costa Concordia ready to be towed away from island

The Costa Concordia is ready to be towed away from the Italian island where it struck a rock and capsized two-and-a-half years ago, killing 32 people, officials have revealed.

The wreckage of the Costa Concordia Credit: ITV News

Many survivors were from the south including dancers from Dorset and Kent as well as passengers from Surrey and Hampshire.

The ship should have been ready to tow today, Monday, but the departure has been pushed back a day due to forecasts of rough seas.

The 114,500-tonne Concordia has been slowly lifted from the sea floor since last Monday, when salvagers began pumping air into 30 large metal boxes attached around the hull.

A convoy of 14 vessels, led by the tug boat Blizzard, will then tow the Concordia to a port near Genoa, where it will be broken up for scrap, completing one of the biggest maritime salvage operations in history.

The president of the French Concordia survivors group Anne Decre, who is on the island of Giglio, told Reuters that the departure of the ship will be an important symbolic moment for those who were aboard the night of the shipwreck.

"It gives us the opportunity to try and collect ourselves and move forward," she said, adding that the liner will take the same route to Genoa it should have taken more than two years ago to complete its ill-fated cruise.

"We hope that we will also be able to return to our route."

The ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, is on trial on charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck as he sailed too close to shore to "salute" the port, and abandoning ship. He is fighting the charges.

Paying for the disaster, including breaking up the vessel and repairing the damage to Giglio, is likely to cost the ship's owner and operator Costa Crociere, a unit of Carnival Corp, more than 1.5 billion euros, the company's chief executive has said.

The cruise liner will be demolished and scrapped in a port near Genoa.


Cruise boss a year after Concordia capsized: "Changes have been made"

The head of the UK's biggest cruise lines says major safety changes have been made following the Costa Concordia tragedy one year ago on Sunday.

People from the Meridian region were among those working on and travelling as passengers on the ship when it hit rocks in Italy and listed over on its side. Thirty-two people died. The Italian Captain is accused of straying off couse and is facing court action.

David Dingle, CEO of Carnival UK, talks to our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse about the safety changes made since the accident.

He insists the industry has responded and is safe and answers criticism that more needs to be done around the issue of ship stability.

Carnival UK owns shipping lines including Cunard, P&O Cruises and Princess. Measures include more drills for passengers and staff, extra life jackets, fewer visits to the bridge, ships keeping to course and heavy objects being secured.

New regulations drafted in wake of Concordia

Tourists take pictures of the Costa Concordia wreckage as they arrive on a ferry to the Giglio Island, Italy, in July. Credit: PA

Ship safety regulations are to be tightened following the Costa Concordia disaster - but it could be many months before some of the regulations take effect.

Safety drills and lifeboat loading are among the measures announced by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

32 lives were lost when the Italian cruise liner turned on its side after striking rocks off the Italian coast in January.

The IMO's safety committee has agreed that rules to require passenger safety drills to take place prior to, or immediately upon, departure should now be made mandatory.

This is instead of "within 24 hours", as stated in the current regulations.

However, it will not be until June 2013 that the draft amendments, which will now be circulated for consideration, will be considered again at the committee's next meeting.

It may not be until the end of 2014 that the new measure will come into force.

Other recommended measures include: recording the nationality of each person on board, and guidance on lifeboat loading for training purposes.

Costa Concordia captain demands job back

The cruise liner Costa Concordia which ran aground off Italy's Tuscany coast Credit: ITV Meridian

The captain of the Costa Concordia - which capsized with the loss of 32 lives - has started legal action to get his job back.

Francesco Schettino says he is also owed back pay. It was in January this year that the luxury liner ran aground off Italy's Tuscany coast.

Many people from the South had been on the vessel, which was carrying four thousand people when it struck rocks.

One of the crew was Rose Metcalf, from Dorset. She helped survivors to safety and, in April this year, returned to the scene with ITV Meridian reporter Sally Simmonds.

Dorset woman Rose Metcalf who returned to the scene with ITV Meridian Credit: ITV Meridian

In his legal action, Captain Schettino claims his action helped save lives by heading for shore rather than open water.

The ship began to take on water after it struck a submerged rock causing a massive hole in its hull.

Captain Francesco Schettino a few weeks after the capsizing Credit: PA Images

The captain has been accused to sailing too close to the coastline, in order to perform a 'salute' to an old friend and as a favour to a member of crew.

The Costa Concordia runs aground Credit: ITV Meridian

At the time, it was reported that he'd abandoned ship before all passengers and crew had got off. He is said to have claimed that he accidentally "tripped" into a lifeboat, but then supervised the evacuation from dry land.

The Captain is expected in Tuscany on Monday for a court hearing at which he is expected to be sent for trial. He could be charged with abandoning ship and multiple counts of manslaughter.