Costa Concordia Fuel Removal Operation Begins

Pumping to remove more than 2,300 tonnes of diesel from the grounded Costa Concordia cruise ship has started, Italian officials have said.

The oil tanker Elba (R) is seen near the cruise liner Costa Concordia, which ran aground off the west coast of Italy, at Giglio island February 12, 2012. Salvage crews on the island of Giglio prepared to resume operations on the capsized Costa Concordia on Sunday. Snowfall and rough seas over the past week brought operations on the cruise liner to a standstill but calmer seas on Sunday offered hopes operations could now resume.

Pumping to remove more than 2,300 tonnes of diesel from the grounded Costa Concordia cruise ship has started, Italian officials have said.

It began on Sunday afternoon, nearly a month after the ship hit a reef and capsized off the island of Giglio.

The process had been delayed by both the search and rescue operation and bad weather, prompting fears of a leak into the protected waters off the island.

Seventeen people died when the ship capsized and 15 more are presumed dead.

Its captain has been accused in Italy of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship before all those aboard were evacuated.

Prosecutors in France have also launched an investigation, given that four French nationals died and two others are among the missing.

The captain, Francesco Schettino, denies wrongdoing.

Dutch salvage company Smit is conducting the operation to pump out the fuel, which is expected to take about four weeks to complete.