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Costa Concordia salvage operation reaches final stage
Laura Lezza/Getty Images
Laura Lezza/Getty Images

The salvage operation for the cruise liner Costa Concordia has reached its final — and most dangerous — stage. The refloat operation for the ship was started at Giglio harbor at Giglio Island on Monday.

The refloat operation, during which crews will use special flotation devices called "sponsors," is a record attempt in heavy lifting — the capsized Costa Concordia weighs 114,500 tons. If the operation is successful, the ship will be towed to Genoa, Italy, where it will be broken down. If the ship is ruptured, however, its toxic chemicals could be spewed into the ocean.

The Costa Concordia veered off course in January 2012, running aground of Giglio Island and killing 32 people. Francesco Schettino, the former captain of the Costa Concordia, is on trial for manslaughter. Russel Rebello, an Indian waiter, is the only victim whose body has not been recovered, and the operation will include surveying the wreckage for Rebello's remains.

In September 2013, the ship was turned upright after a 19-hour operation and was secured on an artificial platform. The refloat operation is expected to take between five and seven days, plus another four to five days to tow the ship to safety.

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