Costa Concordia 'will be refloated and removed whole'


The massive wreck of the tragic Costa Concordia will be refloated and removed whole, a report, quoting an Italian official, has claimed.

Franco Gabrielli, the head of the Civil Protection Authority, was addressing concerns of locals, Britain's The Telegraph said in its report.

Residents of the island of Giglio, where the ship smashed into rocks, have expressed fears over an oil spill and are worried about the half-submerged 114,500-tonne liner's effect on the surrounding ecosystem.

Cruise giant Costa Crociere also announced a tender for a contract expected to run into the millions of euros (dollars) to salvage the a giant cruise ship with the loss of 32 lives.

The company - Europe's top cruise operator and part of US-based Carnival Corp - is under pressure to speed up what it says will be an unprecedented operation on the liner, which is more than twice the size of the Titanic.

Costa Crociere 'has called for tenders from 10 companies throughout the world to present a working plan to entirely remove the hull of the Costa Concordia', the Genoa-based company said in a statement.

Operators should 'perform the work in the shortest time possible, while ensuring maximum safety and the least possible environmental impact', it added.

It said the winner would be selected by the end of March 'although it cannot be excluded that there will be delays given the complexity of the operation'.

Gabrielli, who has also been overseeing rescue and salvage operations, said it would take seven to 10 months to remove the wreck once the tender is completed.

The Costa Concordia, which was carrying 4,229 passengers and crew when it crashed, was inaugurated in 2006 and cost 450 million euros ($591 million).

Dutch giant Smit - one of the biggest maritime salvage companies in the world - has already been picked to empty 2,380 tons of heavy fuel oil from the Costa Concordia's tanks but has not yet begun pumping operations.

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