The most complex and costly salvage operation of its kind ever attempted began at (0700 GMT) 3:00 A.M. EST on the Italian island of Giglio after a three-hour delay due to an overnight storm, and progress was slower than originally estimated.
Still on its side, the flank of the ship was entirely off the rock shelf and raised far enough out of the sea to reveal a dirty brown water mark staining the white hull.
The Concordia was carrying more than 4,000 people went it hit rocks off Giglio on Jan. 13, 2012 and capsized with the loss of 32 lives. Two bodies have yet to be recovered and underwater cameras failed to find any sign of them as darkness fell and searchlights lit up the port.
In contrast to the accident, a catalog of mishap and misjudgment over which the Concordia's captain Francesco Schettino faces multiple charges, the salvage operation has so far been a tightly coordinated engineering feat.
At a cost estimated at more than $795 million, it is expected to be the most expensive maritime wreck recovery, accounting for more than half of an overall insurance loss of more than $1.1 billion.
The so-called "parbuckling" operation will see the 114,500-ton vessel slowly rotated upright using a series of huge jacks and cables prior to be towed away and broken up for scrap, probably next spring.
Italy's Civil Protection Authority said work would probably continue until dawn. Engineers said they were satisfied with progress and not concerned about the time.
(video courtesy CBS News)
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