Costa Concordia completes its voyage to the scrap yard
By Paola Balsomini
GENOA Italy (Reuters) - The wrecked Costa Concordia cruise liner limped into its last port on Sunday, when it was towed to the northern Italian city of Genoa to be broken up for scrap, two-and-a-half years after running aground and sinking with the loss of 32 lives.
After a four-day journey from the Tuscan island of Giglio, where it sank on Jan. 13, 2012, the 114,500-tonne hulk was maneuvered into place and secured at the conclusion of one of the largest and most complex maritime salvages ever attempted.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi flew to Genoa to hail the completion of the operation which restored some pride to Italy after a disaster that was widely interpreted as a national humiliation as well as a human tragedy.
"This isn't a day for showing off or creating a spectacle, but it's a mark of gratitude from the prime minister for getting something done which everyone said would be impossible," Renzi told reporters on the dock, saluting the work of the salvage engineers from Italy and around the world.
"We have had a terrible page to turn, but Italy isn't a country destined for the scrap heap," he said.
In contrast to the night when the Concordia ran aground and capsized during a display sometimes performed by cruise ships known as a "salute", the salvage operation has been a resounding technical success.
After hours of preparation, dockworkers fixed the wreck in place in the industrial port of Voltri, just outside the main harbor in Genoa.
It will be dismantled by a consortium led by Italian engineering group Saipem and Genoa-based San Giorgio del Porto in an operation expected to cost 100 million euros and take up to two years. Continued...