ROME (AP) — A diver died Saturday while working on the shipwrecked Costa Concordia, apparently gashing his leg on an underwater metal sheet while preparing the wreck for removal, officials and news reports said.
Italy's civil protection agency, which is overseeing the removal of the Concordia from Tuscany's coast, said the diver hailed from Spain.
Tuscany's La Nazione newspaper said the diver had been working on preparations to affix huge tanks onto sides of the Concordia to float the ship off its false seabed and tow it to a port for eventual dismantling. It said he apparently gashed his leg on an underwater metal sheet and was then unable to get free, bleeding profusely before a diver colleague was able to bring him to the surface. The report said he was conscious upon surfacing but later died.
The diver, who wasn't identified by authorities, is the first to die in the line of work on salvaging the Concordia ever since it slammed into a reef off Giglio island on Jan. 13, 2012, killing 32 passengers and crew. A diver died last year, but the causes were reportedly unrelated to the work.
The Concordia was righted in preparation for removal during a remarkable, 19-hour engineering feat last fall in which a system of pulleys wrenched the 300-meter-long (1,000-foot-long), 115,000-ton cruise ship from its side to vertical. A dozen giant tanks were affixed to its exposed port side and filled with water to help pull the ship upright.
The current project that the diver was working on was to prepare the starboard side, which had been underwater until the ship was righted, to hold a similar number of tanks.