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Costa Concordia salvage set to begin in May

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 2:03 AM EDT, Sun April 22, 2012
The salvage process to retrieve the wrecked cruise liner Costa Concordia is expected to take at least a year, according to the ship's owner.
The salvage process to retrieve the wrecked cruise liner Costa Concordia is expected to take at least a year, according to the ship's owner.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Salvage companies from the U.S. and Italy will begin work next month
  • "Once returned to a floating state, the wreck will be towed to an Italian port," Costa says
  • The salvage process is expected to last a year, the cruise line said
  • The Costa Concordia struck rock on January 13 off the coast of Giglio

(CNN) -- Removing the wrecked cruise liner Costa Concordia from the coastal waters off an Italian island will begin in May and take about a year, the ship's owner said.

"Once returned to a floating state, the wreck will be towed to an Italian port," Costa Cruises said in a news release.

A decision on what to do with the ship after it has been towed will be up to Italian authorities, according to Pier Luigi Foschi, chairman of Costa Cruises.

U.S.-based Titan Salvage of Florida and Micoperi, an Italy-based salvage, have been selected to recover and tow away the Concordia, Costa said.

The announcement Saturday by Costa follows news that the bodies of all but two of the 32 people presumed dead in the wreck have been recovered.

The cruise liner struck rocks and turned on its side January 13 off the Italian island of Giglio.

Recovery teams spent weeks searching the submerged decks and cabins for those who failed to escape the sinking vessel.

The liner, owned by Genoa-based Costa Cruises, was carrying about 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members when it struck the rocks.

The Concordia's captain, Francesco Schettino, remains under house arrest while he is investigated for possible criminal charges.

He faces possible charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck, abandoning ship, failing to report an accident to the coast guard and destroying a natural habitat, a prosecutor said last month. A portion of Giglio's coastal waters is designated as a protected marine habitat.

Schettino's first officer, Ciro Ambrosio, and six other officers both on the ship and from the firm Costa in Genoa are under investigation over allegations including manslaughter, shipwreck and failure to report the accident, the prosecutor said.

To date, no one has been charged.

Schettino previously said managers of the Costa cruise line instructed him to sail close to the island and has denied allegations that he was sailing too fast. He has said the rock the ship struck was not indicated on his charts of the area.

CNN's Marilia Brocchetto contributed to this report.

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