GIGLIO ISLAND, Italy — Salvage workers on Thursday began removing a massive rock lodged in the side of the Costa Concordia cruise ship which crashed on an Italian island in January killing 32 people.
The ship hit the offshore rock just as many of the 4,229 people on board were settling down to dinner on the first day of a Mediterranean cruise.
The rock opened a gash in the hull and remained stuck inside as the ship veered and eventually keeled over near the island of Giglio.
Local officials said earlier that the rock could be turned into a monument.
Authorities on the island were also preparing to mark the six-month anniversary of the tragedy on Friday with a special mass with relatives of the victims in the church where many of the survivors were housed that night.
Elio Vincenzi, the widower of one of the victims, will dive into the sea on Saturday and leave a commemorative plaque at a depth of 25 metres (82 feet) at the exact spot where the giant ship first hit an offshore reef.
The Costa Concordia's captain Francesco Schettino, five other crew members and three executives from ship owner Costa Crociere, Europe's biggest cruise operator, including its vice president are under investigation.
Prosecutors say a trial may not start until early next year.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »