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Engineers attempt to right submerged cruise ship Costa Concordia after 2012 crash

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Concordia flickr
Concordia flickr

Thirty-two people were killed when the cruise ship Costa Concordia crashed and eventually capsized on January 13th, 2012. More than a year later, an ambitious mission to pull the ship upright is now underway. The Concordia must be righted by about 65 degrees before the ill-fated vessel can finally be towed away and turned into scrap metal. That process — known as parbuckling — is regularly used in these situations, but never for a boat quite the size of Concordia.

Engineers have used stabilizing blocks to anchor the ship to the sea floor, with 12 retaining turrets also installed to help balance Concordia as it's turned upright. Once that sling-like motion is complete, the ship will rest on an underwater platform erected 100 feet beneath the surface. (USA Today has laid out the entire process with a slideshow if you're having trouble visualizing it.) From start to finish, engineers expect the effort to take between 10 and 12 hours. According to the Associated Press, they're overseeing the parbuckling attempt from a floating command center located right near the wreckage.

A live stream has been set up, and while it's relatively slow going right now, things should pick up some as the day progresses. The cost of this sophisticated operation is reportedly already $800 million, and worse yet, there's no guarantee of success. The AP says engineers admit there's a "remote" possibility the ship could break apart during the parbuckling attempt and thus become impossible to tow. Capt. Francesco Schettino, the Concordia's captain, is currently on trial facing charges of manslaughter and causing a shipwreck for the incident.