TODAY   |  September 16, 2013

Costa Concordia ship to be lifted upright

After a year of planning, the massive shipwreck is slowly being lifted to an upright position, an important step towards removing it completely from the Italian coast. NBC’s Michelle Kosinski reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> a salvage operation is going on off the coast of italy right now. for the first time since the coa coasta concordia disaster they're trying to raise the ship. good morning to you.

>> it's moving. the latest word is it's going exactly as planned, to the millimeters. let's look at where the concordia was early this morning versus now. see that huge difference? no? well we're starting to see water lines coming up around the edge of the ship but this incredibly delicate operation is slow. about 10 feet per hour. it will take 12 hours but is an enormous step in finally getting this out of here. angry skies threatened over this gigantic ship wreck but at dawn, last minute checks, a three hour delay, and then, all systems go after more than a year of around the clock operations.

>> bring mess back. it's horrible.

>> the more than 4,000 people were on board that night. in that chaos, 32 lost their lives including two americans. they had been on their honeymoon and ended up climbing a roped ladder sneaking across the exposed hull in the darkness thinking they would likely die.

>> i'm not sorry we're not there because i don't think i could have coped with it.

>> it is the biggest cruise ship wreck in history and the salvage operation is an engineering marvel. similar efforts have been done on a much smaller scale. some big wrecks are just handled like this. but here, the steep reef below is leveled with cement. ten story high floats installed around the outside. cables extended around the ship's belly pulled from machines on land and it is actually working.

>> the worst case scenario is what?

>> there's always a risk of failure, structural failure when loading up a ship like this but it's probably localized kind of failures. and it would be catastrophic.

>> remember, two of the victims were never found. so when salvagers get the ship upright floating on the surface of the water, they will continue that search both under water and inside the ship. also, next week starts the trial of the captain. savannah.

>>> thank you very much. major