Costa Concordia removal enters last stage

The wrecked Costa Concordia is set to be towed away from the waters off the Italian island of Giglio by the end of July.

Italian government officials on Monday gave approval for the vessel to be towed to Genoa, where it will be taken apart and recycled.

In a statement, Costa Cruises CEO Michael Thamm said “achievement of the goal we set ourselves 2 1/2 years ago — namely the safe and definitive removal of the wreck from Giglio Island — is now within sight.” Costa is owned by Doral-based Carnival Corp.

Hundreds of technicians are working to prepare the vessel for refloating, a process that is expected to start in about two weeks.

The ship struck rock off the Tuscan coast on Jan. 13, 2012, partially capsizing in an incident that killed 32 people.