ROME (AP) – A diver died Saturday while working on the shipwrecked Costa Concordia, apparently gashing his leg on an underwater metal sheet while preparing the wreck for removal, officials and news reports said.
Italy’s civil protection agency, which is overseeing the removal of the Concordia from Tuscany’s coast, said the diver hailed from Spain.
Tuscany’s La Nazione newspaper said the diver had been working on preparations to affix huge tanks onto sides of the Concordia to float the ship off its false seabed and tow it to a port for eventual dismantling. It said he apparently gashed his leg on an underwater metal sheet and was then unable to get free, bleeding profusely before a diver colleague was able to bring him to the surface. The report said he was conscious upon surfacing but later died.
The diver, who wasn’t identified by authorities, is the first to die in the line of work on salvaging the Concordia ever since it slammed into a reef off Giglio island on Jan. 13, 2012, killing 32 passengers and crew. A diver died last year, but the causes were reportedly unrelated to the work.
The Concordia was righted in preparation for removal during a remarkable, 19-hour engineering feat last fall in which a system of pulleys wrenched the 300-meter-long (1,000-foot-long), 115,000-ton cruise ship from its side to vertical. A dozen giant tanks were affixed to its exposed port side and filled with water to help pull the ship upright.
The current project that the diver was working on was to prepare the starboard side, which had been underwater until the ship was righted, to hold a similar number of tanks.
The tanks will be emptied of water and used to literally float the wreck off the seabed, so it can be towed away from Giglio, brought to a port and taken apart for scrap. Officials say they hope to have it removed by June.
The 600 million euro ($810 million) removal project, which has already run nearly twice its original cost estimates, is the most ambitious ever attempted for a ship the size of the Concordia.
In a statement, the head of the civil protection agency, Franco Gabrielli, expressed condolences for the death and recalled the dedication of people working on the wreckage, saying they had worked “for two years without a break, in difficult conditions not without risks, to achieve the common goal of removing the Concordia from Giglio.”
The ship’s captain is currently on trial for manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and leaving the ship before all passengers were evacuated. Prosecutors have accused him of taking the ship off course in a stunt to bring it closer to Giglio. Capt. Francesco Schettino has said he saved lives by steering the ship to shallow waters after it ran aground on a reef that wasn’t on his nautical charts.
On Friday, Italy’s highest court let stand plea bargains reached by five other Costa employees.
Costa is a unit of Miami-based Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise line.
Follow Nicole Winfield at
(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Best and worst of Super Bowl commercials
- Failed back surgery: New hope for patients living in pain
- Ticking time bombs: Telltale signs your water heater is about to explode
- Reading glasses could be a thing of the past
- 6 cool ways teachers are using technology in the classroom
- Emerging tech jobs in Phoenix and how to get one in 2017
- 4 top treatments athletes use for pain
- Emergency! What to do when bathrooms flood
- Operation Santa Claus needs holiday help
- This college bowl season is likely to be epic
- Arizona kids in crisis: How you can help
- 11 holiday classics for the ultimate movie marathon
- 2016 college football rivalry games you simply can't miss
- New treatment offers hope for migraine sufferers
- 11 stadiums to watch your favorite football team
- Shopping for a TV? Best models for 2016
- The new beer pairing guide for holiday foods
- Avoid this holiday plumbing disaster in your home
- 7 tips to avoid holiday weight gain
- New treatments mean better prostate cancer survival rates
- 5 of the scariest things found in drains
- 6 tips to create the best family movie night
- New bone marrow procedure holds promise for healing pain
- The best places to celebrate Fall in Phoenix
- Infamous athletes who did the most time for their crimes
- Diet, exercise and aspirin: 3 tools to fight colon cancer
- 2016 baseball highlights, bloopers and blunders
- See how CFOs really feel about business in the Valley
- The best television shows on the internet
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof