Costa Concordia cruise ship was finally pulled upright after a dramatic 19-hour salvage operation.
Salvage officials believe the bodies of waiter Russel Rebello and passenger Maria Grazia Trecarichi could be found in a lifeboat beneath the ship’s hull.
It was hoped remains would become visible as the complex system of cables and hydraulics hauled the vessel – on which 32 lives were lost – from its side.
Salvage teams worked through the night for 19 hours – and decks eventually became visible after being underwater for 20 months since it went down.
The vessel is covered in rust and stained by the sea, while all the windows which were submerged in Giglio harbor, Italy, have been shattered.
Kevin Rebello, the waiter’s brother, and Elio Vincenzi, passenger Maria Grazia Trecarichi’s husband, were expected to arrive on the island today.
“I haven’t slept since yesterday,” Kevin Rebello said in an interview in Rome.
“It’s taken 20 months. If it takes another 20 hours, for me it’s worth the wait.”
Elio Vincenzi said: “I am still hoping to find my wife. This is a tense wait for me and for my daughter.”
Despite fears the ship may break apart before it reached the crucial angle of 65 degrees, the operation has gone smoothly, but slower than expected.
Costa Concordia cruise ship was finally pulled upright after a dramatic 19-hour salvage operation
The $800 million salvage effort is said to be the largest in maritime history, but there will be no saving the $575 million liner – destined for the scrapyard.
Local residents and survivors said that there was an eerie feeling as the ship rose – and some said the sight reminded them of the tragedy.
“Seeing it re-emerge is emotional for me,” said survivor Luciano Castro.
“I could not miss it. That ship could have been my end and instead I am here.”
The operation will not be complete until the vessel is towed away from the island – probably by next spring, after a full survey is done on the wreckage.
Shortly after 4 a.m. today, a foghorn wailed on Giglio island and the head of Italy’s Civil Protection agency announced that the ship had reached vertical.
Franco Gabrielli added that the operation to rotate the cruise liner – known in nautical terms as parbuckling – was complete.
Some 36 giant cables were put across the hull to drag up the ship – and enormous tanks were welded onto its side and filled with water to act as ballast.
“We completed the parbuckling operation a few minutes ago the way we thought it would happen and the way we hoped it would happen,” said Franco Porcellacchia, project manager for the Concordia’s owner, Costa Crociere Spa.
“A perfect operation, I must say.”
No environmental spill has been detected so far, he said. Applause rang out among firefighters in the tent where the engineers made the announcement.
An hour later, Nick Sloane, the South African chief salvage master, received a hero’s welcome as he came ashore from the barge that had served as the floating command control room for the operation.
“Brilliant! Perfetto,” Nick Sloane said, using some of the Italian he has learned over the past year on Giglio preparing for Tuesday’s operation.
“It was a struggle, a bit of a roller coaster. But for the whole team it was fantastic.”
Costa Concordia slammed into a reef off Giglio Island on January 13, 2012, after the captain brought it too close to shore.
Costa Concordia cruise ship drifted, listed and capsized just off the island’s port, killing 32 people.
Jenni Rivera’s family are said to be disgusted over the gruesome video leaked on the internet which shows parts of her bloodied dismembered body strewn amongst the wreckage.
The family wants the people responsible to be brought to justice after the leaked footage – which shows a severed foot with painted toenails – spread like wildfire across the internet.
Two Mexican police officers were arrested yesterday for looting from the wreckage site. One of these officers is thought to have sold the images to the media.
Though the video was not confirmed as being authentic, the Rivera family said they believe it is due to the items in the video and images of the mangled body parts.
It also emerged the company that owns the luxury jet Jenni Rivera was traveling in is under investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the agency seized two of its planes earlier this year as part of the ongoing probe.
DEA spokeswoman Lisa Webb Johnson confirmed on Thursday the planes owned by Las Vegas-based Starwood Management were seized in Texas and Arizona.
The agency also has subpoenaed all the company’s records, including any correspondence it has had with a former Tijuana mayor who U.S. law enforcement officials have long suspected has ties to organized crime.
Sources close to the Riveras told TMZ the family is appalled that anyone would even think about leaking something like that, especially if it was a first responder.
“We’re told the severed foot was the most painful part to watch because Jenni was very particular about her feet and toes,” the source said.
Jenni Rivera’s family are said to be disgusted over the gruesome video leaked on the internet which shows parts of her bloodied dismembered body strewn amongst the wreckage
The officers were caught after images of the crash site were found on one of the arrested officers’ cell phones.
The extremely graphic photos depicted body parts and personal documents belonging to those aboard the doomed flight, including Jenni Rivera, 43, a singer and reality star known as the “Queen of Banda”.
The Spanish news agency EFE identified the arrested officers as Luis Antonio Ávila Moreno, 23 and Mario Alberto García Pacheco, 24.
The items that the duo allegedly stole from the plane were not identified by investigators.
As the issue of police corruption rears its ugly head, Mexican authorities hope to continue with the investigation of the tragic crash on Sunday.
A person speaking on behalf of the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles told TMZ: “We have over 2,000,000 police officers [in Mexico], and unfortunately some of these officers have been corrupt in the past, but we cannot generalize that the whole force is corrupt.”
The rep added: “Mexico has been working very hard to make their citizens and tourists safe, however it is not fair to judge the whole tree based upon a few bad apples.”
The body of Jenni Rivera was found in the wreckage along with the bodies of six others, including her publicist, lawyer, make-up artist and two pilots.
News of the arrests came as Rivera’s family identified her remains.
Nuevo Leon state security spokesman Jorge Domene said DNA tests are still pending. Jenni Rivera’s remains will be given to the family once the tests are completed in coming days.
It was also revealed this week that Jenni Rivera was in the final states of buying the Learjet plane from business executive Christian E. Esquino Nunez, 50, who has a long and checkered legal past.
Corporate records list his sister-in-law as the company’s only officer, but insurance companies that cover some of the firm’s planes say in court documents that the woman is merely a front and that Christian E. Esquino Nunez is the one in charge.
Christian E. Esquino Nunez’s legal woes date back decades. He pleaded guilty to a fraud charge that stemmed from a major drug investigation in Florida in the early 1990s and most recently was sentenced to two years in federal prison in a California aviation fraud case.
Christian E. Esquino Nunez, a Mexican citizen, was deported upon his release.