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Costa Concordia Set To Be Refloated After 2 1/2 Years, Nearly 2 Billion Dollars

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Two and a half years to the day that the Costa Concordia wrecked on January 13, 2012, salvage operators are finally ready to refloat the ship during the next few days.

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Although a specific date has not been announced, speculation is that the ship will be raised on Monday, July 14. Workmen at the site had expressed reservations about raising the ship on the 13th of the month, citing it as an 'unlucky day'. (You can get up to the minute salvage updates by receiving an email alert from the website 'Concordia Webcams')

The included video shows a much closer look at what divers have seen for years, as Italian Police this week released an 8 minute video "dive thru" of the underwater portions of the Concordia.

Latest estimates for the cost of the salvage are between 1.5 and 2 billion dollars. Over 1 billion has already been spent, and the 100 million it will cost to break the ship into scrap, and the clean up costs for the environmentally protected site off Giglio Island haven't been factored in yet.

The Concordia was carrying over 4,200 people on the night it ran upon rocks off the island of Giglio, Italy. At the time, the ship was doing a 'passby' of the island, where she deviated from the normal route, moving closer to the shore than the normal, safe route. Upon slashing a large hole in the side, Captain Francesco Schettino maneuvered the ship back toward shore, where over the course of a few hours she gently lay on her side. Thirty two persons, including passengers and crew members lost their lives in the wreck.

Schettino and a number of other ship's officers were later charged with various crimes in the wreck, including abandoning ship and manslaughter in the deaths.

Extremely thorough salvage was required from the beginning, as the ship lay within the Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals, a highly protected area of the Mediterranean, a popular diving spot and home to many protected animals. Oil and other hazardous products and chemicals were pumped from the wreck within months, then an underwater platform was built and the ship slowly lowered to it, causing it to once again to sit upright. Even with these precautions, some hazardous material leakage did occur in the 2 1/2 years.

Costa CEO Michael Thamm told a German newspaper earlier this month that it may take another two years before the ship is totally scrapped and cleanup operations at the wreck site are complete.

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