Salvage workers on the Italian island of Giglio have been working round the clock to carry out final preparations on the wrecked Costa Concordia ahead of the cruise liner's final voyage to the port of Genoa, so it can be broken up for scrap.
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According to a statement issued by the Concordia Wreck Removal Project on Saturday, an average floating of about six metres has been reached through the latest operations
Deck 5 of the giant cruise ship has completely emerged from the sea and about two metres remain for Deck 4 to refloat, the salvagers said.
As technicians carried out the salvage operations on the wreck, in Giglio port, a German couple relived the events of the night the Concordia sank, killing 32 people. Shipwreck survivors Helmut Buttkus and Ilse Mari Kischlat had a lucky last-minute escape from the tilting luxury liner.
"The most critical moment for me was when we boarded the lifeboats and it went down along the side of the Concordia which was already tilted. It went down by two or three metres until the ropes reached their limit. They were not long enough, so they had to be disconnected and everything fell down sharply," recalled Buttkus.
"I was watching the side of the ship sliding quickly and thinking that if the raft overturns, it's all over for us, we will not survive."
The husband and wife wanted to return to Giglio before the Costa Concordia is towed away.
"I am here to say goodbye to the Costa Concordia, on which our second lives started," said Kischlat. "Many things from that night are coming back to my mind only now, that we are here in Giglio, despite the fact that we often speak about what happened," she added.
Meanwhile, new footage was released of the interior of the wreck by the Grosseto court, shot by court inspectors gathering material for the trial of Concordia captain Francesco Schettino.
Schettino is on trial accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship. He is fighting the charges.