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The crippled Costa Concordia cruise ship was pulled completely upright early Tuesday during a complicated, 19-hour operation to wrench it from its side where it capsized last year off Tuscany, with officials declaring it a “perfect” end to a daring and unprecedented engineering feat.

Shortly after 4 a.m., a foghorn wailed on Giglio Island and the head of Italy’s Civil Protection agency, Franco Gabrielli, announced that the ship had reached vertical and that the operation to rotate it – known in nautical terms as parbuckling – was complete.

“We completed the parbuckling operation a few minutes ago the way we thought it would happen and the way we hoped it would happen,” said Franco Porcellacchia, project manager for the Concordia’s owner, Costa Crociere SpA.

“A perfect operation, I must say,” with no environmental spill detected so far, he said.

Applause rang out among firefighters in the tent where the project engineers made the announcement. An hour later, Nick Sloane, the South African chief salvage master, received a hero’s welcome as he came ashore from the barge that had served as the floating command control room for the operation.

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Costa Concordia Salvage Operation

Salvage operators in Italy lifted the Costa Concordia cruise ship upright from its watery grave off the island of Giglio in the biggest ever project of its kind. (Photo by VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images) | Getty
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