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Costa Concordia: shipwreck to be removed in one piece

Meanwhile, fire breaks out in the engine room of Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas, tied for the largest cruise ship in the world.

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A dog lies on a small wall as the stricken cruise liner Costa Concordia lies aground in front of Giglio Island on Jan 27. (FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)

The Associated Press reports that the owners of the stricken Costa Concordia cruise liner announced today that the wreckage of the ship would be salvaged in one piece during a year-long operation expected to begin in early May.

Thirty-two people died and 64 were injured in January after the ship ran aground as its captain attempted a near-shore salute by Giglio Island. The recovery of bodies and fuel has preoccupied Italian authorities while the company tendered contracts for the removal of the ship.

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The Florida company Titan Salvage, one of six companies to bid for the project, has won the contract, according the AP, which did not reveal its value. The news agency said Titan had performed more than 350 wreck removals and salvage operations. The removal of the ship still requires the approval of Italian authorities.

Meanwhile, The Miami Herald reported today that an engine-room fire had briefly broken out aboard the Allure of the Seas, a cruise ship operated by Royal Caribbean International which is tied for the title of the world’s largest cruise ship.

The company described the fire, which occurred during a voyage from St. Maarten to Fort Lauderdale, as “small and short-lived” and said it had occurred at 7:45 pm yesterday evening.

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Spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez was quoted as saying that “the ship's high fog system was immediately activated, which contained and extinguished the fire.” She said there were no injuries and that the ship continued on its way under its own power.