The Costa Concordia salvage

According to the American television network CNN, the removal of the wreckage of the Costa Concordia cruiser should start in September. The ship has been lying partly submerged in front of the harbour of Giglio, a small island off the coast of Tuscany, since it ran aground on rocks over 19 months ago.

According to salvage plans the 114,500-ton wreck will be brought back to its upright position and levered on to an underwater platform of scaffolding and cement bags in a process called parbuckling. If this delicate operation is successful the ship's damaged side will be repaired and then steel "caissons" or container-like boxes will be attached to its sides and filled with air in order to float the wreck off the rocks.

If all goes according to plan the Costa Concordia will then be towed to the nearby port of Piombino. Even if works proceeds on schedule, the ship will not be moved before spring when the sea conditions are better.

The salvage operation, which it is estimated will cost at least $400 million, is being directed by the Florida-based Titan Salvage and the Italian company Micoperi.

Photos by CNN