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Costa Concordia salvage effort gets underway

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Salvage engineers pushed back the start of an operation on Monday to lift the wrecked Costa Concordia liner upright after an overnight storm interrupted preparations, officials said.

Franco Gabrielli, head of Italy's Civil Protection Authority, said work had been delayed by about two hours but that there was no serious threat to the operation, one of the most complex salvage projects ever attempted.

"There is no change to the operation, there is only a delay due to the conditions," he told reporters. "We have always said that the weather would be our constant companion and that we would have to take account of it."

He said a brief but violent storm overnight had prevented engineers from setting up the barge where the on-site control room will be located.

The a so-called "parbuckling" operation will see the ship rotated by a series of cranes and hydraulic machines, pulling the hulk from above and below and slowly twisting it upright.

Once upright, the vessel will be stabilized before being towed away for scrap, probably next spring.

The financial stakes for insurers in the recovery of the wreck on the island of Giglio are huge, with the ship's owner Costa Cruises last week estimating the cost of the salvage operation at 600 million euros ($795 million)"and rising".

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