October 22 - One of the world's biggest ever heavy lift operations is under way as savage workers prepare to raise the 114,500 dwt cruise liner Costa Concordia, which sank in the Mediterranean with the loss of 32 lives on January 13, 2012.

Cranes tower over the capsized luxury liner, which lies where it capsized off the coast of Italy in January as the biggest ship recovery programme ever is posing salvage teams with the challenge of removing the ship without polluting the surrounding ecology, which includes a marine conservation area.

US based Titan Salvage, a company owned by Crowley Maritime Group, won the bid for the project to right and float the Concordia jointly with Italian marine and heavy lift contractor Micoperi.

Large metal tanks as high an 11-storey building and weighing more than 500 tonnes that can be filled with water will then be welded onto the sides of the ship to balance the wreckage while it is dragged into an upright position using two cranes.

Franco Porcellacchia from ship owner Carnival said the EUR400 million (USD525 million) project to raise the vessel is "part salvage, part offshore operation".