* Cruise liner's prow to emerge on Sunday
* Rough seas to push back departure one day to Tuesday
* Survivor says ship departure will let her "move forward"
By Eleanor Biles and Silvia Ognibene
GIGLIO, Italy, July 20 The massive hulk of the
Costa Concordia is nearly ready to be towed away from the
Italian island where it struck a rock and capsized
two-and-a-half years ago, killing 32 people, officials said on
The rusting prow of the once-gleaming white luxury liner was
due to emerge fully from the water for the first time on Sunday,
and the ship should be ready to tow on Monday, but the departure
has been pushed back a day due to forecasts of rough seas.
The 114,500-tonne Concordia has been slowly lifted from the
sea floor since Monday, when salvagers began pumping air into 30
large metal boxes, or sponsons, attached around the hull.
The air has forced water out of the sponsons, lifting the
cruise liner 7.5 metres off the undersea platform where it had
been resting, Franco Porcellacchia, the engineer in charge of
the salvage, said. There are 6.3 metres to go, he added.
A convoy of 14 vessels, led by the tug boat Blizzard, will
then tow the Concordia to a port near Genoa, where it will be
broken up for scrap, completing one of the biggest maritime
salvage operations in history.
The president of the French Concordia survivors group Anne
Decre, who is on the island of Giglio, told Reuters on Sunday
that the departure of the ship will be an important symbolic
moment for those who were aboard the night of the shipwreck.
"It gives us the opportunity to try and collect ourselves
and move forward," she said, adding that the liner will take the
same route to Genoa it should have taken more than two years ago
to complete its ill-fated cruise.
"We hope that we will also be able to return to our route."
The ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, is on trial on
charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck as he sailed too
close to shore to "salute" the port, and abandoning ship. He is
fighting the charges.
Paying for the disaster, including breaking up the vessel
and repairing the damage to Giglio, is likely to cost the ship's
owner and operator Costa Crociere, a unit of Carnival Corp
, more than 1.5 billion euros ($20.30 billion), the
company's chief executive has said.
The cruise liner will be demolished and scrapped in a port
near Genoa by a consortium including oil services company Saipem
and Genoa-based companies Mariotti and San Giorgio.
($1 = 0.7391 Euros)
(Reporting by Eleanor Biles and Silvia Ognibene; Editing by Tom