Costa Concordia wreck set to be righted next week

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ROME — The hull of the Costa Concordia, the cruise ship that has been lying sideways off the Italian coast since a deadly accident last year, is set to be righted next week, a government official said Wednesday.

The vessel ran aground near the island of Giglio, in Tuscany, in an accident that made worldwide news. The plan is to rotate the hull upright, so that it can be refloated and towed to the mainland for dismantling. Officials hope to complete operations during the first half of next year.

"For us the first possible date for the rotation of the Costa Concordia is September 16," the head of Italy's civil protection agency, Franco Gabrielli, said during a visit to Giglio.

Weather conditions will determine when the operations will start exactly, Gabrielli said, adding that the decision will be taken with one day's notice.

The Concordia hit a reef and partly sunk on Jan. 13, 2012, killing 32 of its 4,229 passengers. Captain Francesco Schettino, who is accused of having steered the ship close to the shore to please a crew member, is being tried for manslaughter and other crimes.