ROME (AP) -- A diver died Saturday while working on the shipwrecked
Costa Concordia, apparently gashing his leg on an underwater metal sheet
while preparing the wreck for removal, officials and news reports said.
civil protection agency, which is overseeing the removal of the
Concordia from Tuscany's coast, said the diver hailed from Spain.
Tuscany's La Nazione
newspaper said the diver had been working on preparations to affix huge
tanks onto sides of the Concordia to float the ship off its false
seabed and tow it to a port for eventual dismantling. It said he
apparently gashed his leg on an underwater metal sheet and was then
unable to get free, bleeding profusely before a diver colleague was able
to bring him to the surface. The report said he was conscious upon
surfacing but later died.
The diver, who wasn't identified by
authorities, is the first to die in the line of work on salvaging the
Concordia ever since it slammed into a reef off Giglio island on Jan.
13, 2012, killing 32 passengers and crew. A diver died last year, but
the causes were reportedly unrelated to the work.
The Concordia was righted in preparation for removal during a
remarkable, 19-hour engineering feat last fall in which a system of
pulleys wrenched the 1,000-foot-long, 115,000-ton cruise ship from its
side to vertical. A dozen giant tanks were affixed to its exposed port
side and filled with water to help pull the ship upright.
current project that the diver was working on was to prepare the
starboard side, which had been underwater until the ship was righted, to
hold a similar number of tanks.
The tanks will be emptied of
water and used to literally float the wreck off the seabed, so it can be
towed away from Giglio, brought to a port and taken apart for scrap.
Officials say they hope to have it removed by June.
million removal project, which has already run nearly twice its original
cost estimates, is the most ambitious ever attempted for a ship the
size of the Concordia.
In a statement, the head of the civil
protection agency, Franco Gabrielli, expressed condolences for the death
and recalled the dedication of people working on the wreckage, saying
they had worked "for two years without a break, in difficult conditions
not without risks, to achieve the common goal of removing the Concordia
The ship's captain is currently on trial for
manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and leaving the ship before all
passengers were evacuated. Prosecutors have accused him of taking the
ship off course in a stunt to bring it closer to Giglio. Capt. Francesco
Schettino has said he saved lives by steering the ship to shallow
waters after it ran aground on a reef that wasn't on his nautical
On Friday, Italy's highest court let stand plea bargains reached by five other Costa employees.
Costa is a unit of Miami-based Carnival Corp., the world's largest cruise line.