The wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise liner is set to be refloated within 10 days, to be towed away from the Italian island where it ran aground and capsized two and a half years ago, the group organizing the removal said on Thursday.
The hulk of the 290-meter ship was righted and secured in a complex operation off the Tuscan holiday island of Giglio last September and, with the arrival of calm summer weather, is now due to be towed to Genoa to be broken up for scrap.
The last of 30 stabilizing devices or "sponsons" was attached to the wreck on Thursday and technicians will now start to test all the systems for the final refloating, the Concordia Wreck Removal Project said in a statement.
"Following installation of the last sponson, we can start the countdown to refloating and final departure of the wreck," Michael Thamm, chief executive of Costa Cruises, a unit of the liner's owner Carnival Corp, said in the statement.
The organizers said the last phases of the project to remove the 114,500-metric-ton vessel, the largest maritime salvage in history, would be explained in detail in the next few days.
A consortium including oil services group Saipem and the Genoa-based companies Mariotti and San Giorgio will carry out the dismantling.
The ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, is on trial accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship. Thirty-two people died in the catastrophe.
(Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Kevin Liffey)