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Costa Concordia salvage operation begins

Engineers will attempt to pull the wrecked Costa Concordia into an upright position, over a year and a half since the cruise ship went down.

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The Costa Concordia cruise ship, which ran aground on January 13, 2012 in Giglio Porto, Italy. (Laura Lezza/AFP/Getty Images)

The Costa Concordia salvage operation began on Monday with engineers attempting to pull the 114,500-ton cruise ship into an upright position for the first time since the January 2012 wreck. 

In an exceptionally audacious engineering project that has been ongoing since last year, salvage workers have stabilized the ship and attached it to the coastline with "submarine blocks," reports CBC. 

Workers have built an undersea platform for the ship to rest on when it is moved into an upright position, while protective materials have been placed around its delicate bow. 

The slow "parbuckling" procedure, as it is known, will see engineers attempt to roll the ship upright using steel cables, as well as metal boxes filled with water welded to the ship's sides, says the BBC. 

The operation, which was scheduled to begin Monday at dawn, was briefly delayed due to bad weather, but later that morning engineer Sergio Girotto told reporters that "Everything is going according to plan... There is no problem whatsoever."

Thirty-two people died when the Costa Concordia crashed into rocks off the Italian town of Giglio, in an incident that shocked the world. The salvage operation has already cost over $798 million, according to AFP, and could reach $1.1 billion.

Five Costa Concordia crew members have been convicted of manslaughter in an Italian court over the tragedy, while the now-infamous captain, Franceso Schettino, has been accused of both abandoning ship and of manslaughter. 

Here is striking aerial footage of the downed vessel:

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/italy/130915/costa-concordia-salvage-will-begin-monday