Costa Concordia satellite photos show extent of salvage challenge

Satellite imagery of stricken cruise ship Costa Concordia has been released, showing the $570m vessel languishing on its side off the Tuscan coast as rescue and salvage attempts continue. The shot, from DigitalGlobe, was taken on January 17, though the Italian coastguard has apparently paused its rescue work after the ship subsequently shifted, the BBC reports. "Instruments indicated the ship had moved" a spokesperson said. "We are in the process of evaluating if it has found a new resting point to allow us to resume. For the moment, we cannot even go near it"

The salvage attempt itself will be technologically complex, requiring multiple specialists teams to operate on the vessel simultaneously. Most immediate – aside from search & rescue looking for any remaining survivors – is a team from SMIT, which has been tasked with removing in excess of 2,300 tonnes of fuel still onboard.

Although experts say the risk of a spillage is low, there are concerns that if the Costa Concordia slips into deeper water then removing the fuel will be made far more complex. Anti-spill booms have been put into place around the ship.

Beyond that, a fleet of ships will winch the cruise ship upright again, potentially using inflatables progressively placed underneath its body to help tip it back to the correct orientation. That will only be possible once the full extent of the puncture damage underneath is understood, however. The salvage project as a whole is expected to extend across a period of months or more.

[via BBC]