The once glamorous cruise liner sailed out for its final humiliating journey

Costa Concordia's final journey begins

The wreckage of Costa Concardia has been dispatched for its final journey after engineers managed to lift the ship from an underwater platform using air-filled sponsons.

A convoy of 14 vessels, led by tug boat Blizzard, will tow the ship at the speed of two knots, or nautical miles per hour, from the island of Giglio in Tuscany, western Italy, to a port near Genoa.

In Genoa, where the ship is due to arrive on Sunday, Costa Concordia will be broken up for scrap, marking an end to more than two years of efforts to secure and remove the wreckage of the once luxurious cruise liner.

The departure from Giglio was delayed by two days due to bad weather.

Over the past week, engineers have slowly lifted the 114,500-tonne vessel, more than twice the size of Titanic, from underwater platforms by pumping air into 30 large metal boxes, or sponsons, attached to the hull.

"When we are in sight of the port of Genoa, we can declare victory," said Franco Gabrielli, the head of Italy's civil protection service, on Wednesday.

The whole salvage operation is set to cost the ship's owners Costa Crociere, a unit of Carnival Corp over €1.5bn euros (£1.18bn), its chief executive said earlier this month.

The ship sank in January 2012, killing 32 people aboard, after it hit rocks off the coast off Giglio after its captain Francesco Schettino steered it away from its safe route to salute the island.

Schettino is facing charges of manslaughter and causing a shipwreck as well as abandoning the sinking ship.

The Costa Concordia salvage operation, said to be the most massive maritime salvage operation in history involved some complex feats of engineering. The ship was put into an upright position in September in a complex "parbuckling" operation in which the huge hulk was slowly lifted off the rocks.

The demolition and scrapping will be done by a consortium including Italian oil services group Saipem and Genoa-based companies Mariotti and San Giorgio.

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