By Alyssa Anderson
Salvage experts have been given the green-light to begin excavating the wrecked Costa Concordia on Monday.
A Mediterranean cruise went awry on Jan. 13, when the ship struck a reef off the coast of Tuscany and capsized. Of the 4,200 passengers, a CNN count concludes that about 17 people are still missing.
The search for missing passengers and the removal of the cruise liner's fuel is planned to begin on Monday, after Franco Gabrielli, head of the national civil protection agency, deemed the ship stable, reports The Associated Press.
Excavation of the ship was previously put on hold after fear that the liner would shift and sink further into the ocean's depths.
In an effort to prevent an environmental catastrophe, five miles of barriers have been placed around the ship to protect the surrounding marine life. At this point, the barriers have held the 2,400 tons of fuel, and only a minor oil slick has emerged past the wreckage.
No timeline has been predicted for how long it will take to clear the wreckage, due to maritime conditions, personnel, and the sheer size of the cruise liner.
"It takes about 45 minutes to search each cabin, using special cameras and divers," said Gabrielli.
The Costa Concordia had 1,500 cabins on board.
The cruise was cut short and salvage might take some time, but rest assured, the passengers of the sunken ship are being compensated. Costa Concordia's parent company, Carnival Cruise Lines, has offered all people aboard the ill-fated ship a 30 per cent discount on future cruises.