We report live from the Costa Concordia raising: Cruise Critic Live!
(11 a.m. EDT) -- Costa Concordia has been raised by almost 4 meters at the bow -- lifting Deck 6 from under the sea -- and 2 meters at the stern. The bow has also been towed some 30 meters out to sea, and the stern 20 meters.
The ship will then be secured by anchors, steel cables and tugs before the refloat devices -- known as sponsons -- are lowered to their final position ahead of the full refloat.
So far, the only minor glitch has been a single steel cable, which was too short to use.
Officials also confirmed that the seabed will be searched again for the last missing body -- that of Russel Rebello, a waiter -- when the ship leaves for Genoa. If it is not found then, the ship will be thoroughly searched before it is dismantled in port.
The first phase of the refloat of Costa Concordia will be completed by about 4 p.m.
(8 a.m. EDT) -- The operation to refloat and remove the Costa Concordia shipwreck has begun successfully, with the ship now afloat and on an even keel one meter above the man-made platform the cruise ship rested on for nearly a year.
The operation to raise the ship from its artificial seabed off the island of Giglio will continue today (July 14) until it has been raised by a further one meter.
Tugs will then tow Concordia 30 meters out to sea to allow the salvage team to carry out inspections on the hull.
Costa CEO Michael Thamm confirmed that the costs of the removal operation -– the biggest salvage operation of its kind -- will have soared to 1.5 billion euros once the costs of towing and scrapping the ship in Genoa have been taken into account.
Speaking at a press conference on the island of Giglio, Thamm said: "I'm very pleased that the engineering work has proved to be very accurate.
"The ship is on an even keel and afloat again. We have seen a great start to this refloat and lots more will follow."
When asked how much the whole operation is likely to cost, Thamm replied: "The refloat will cost more than a 1 billion euros, but this is not including transport or demolition. It will be nearer 1.5 billion euros once all that has been taken into account."
He added: "However, we estimate that this operation has contributed about $1 billion to the Italian economy."
Today's partial refloat is just the first stage of a week-long operation that will first see Concordia raised out of the water by three decks. This stage is likely to take three days. As the decks emerge from the sea level, they will be emptied of water via a slight tilt to the ship. Draining the water from the three decks will bring Concordia a further 14 meters above sea level.
If the refloatation plan is successful, towing could begin as soon as next Monday (July 21st.).
--by Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor
Follow our live blog as we report from the Costa Concordia raising: Cruise Critic Live!