The shipwrecked Costa Concordia has been successfully refloated in preparation to be towed away for scrapping, 30 months after it struck a reef and capsized, killing 32 people.

costa concordia
Water is expelled from the caissons hooked onto the wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise ship during an operation to refloat itAFP

The operation to float the Costa Concordia from an underwater platform proceeded without a hitch. It will be shifted about 30 metres and anchored.

The entire operation to remove the enormous vessel from the reef and float it to Genova, where it will be scrapped, will cost a total of €1.5bn (£1.2 bn). Towing is set to begin on 21 July and expected to take five days.

The 290m luxury liner, twice the size of The Titanic, had more than 4,000 people on board when it ran aground in January 2012, killing at least 32 people.

In this gallery, IBTimesUK tells the story of the disaster and recovery effort through 20 powerful photos.

14 January 2012: Passengers line up on the Costa Concordia and move down along the side of the vessel during the evacuation operation in a still image taken from a videoReuters/Guardia Costiera
20120114 rescued
14 January 2012: Evacuated passengers arrive at Porto Santo Stefano after the Costa Concordia ran aground overnight, took on water and tipped overReuters
20120115 korean
15 January 2012: A South Korean man is rescued from the Costa ConcordiaReuters
20120116 diver
16 January 2012: An Italian Coast guard diver searches for missing passengers inside the Costa ConcordiaReuters//Guardia Costiera
20120117 enter
17 January 2012: Scuba divers enter the Costa Concordia cruise ship through a broken windowReuters//Centro subacquei dei Carabinieri
20120119 ships bell
19 January 2012: Scuba divers swim around the ship's bell as they inspect the shipwreckReuters//Centro subacquei dei Carabinieri
20120123 chopper
23 January 2012: A firefighter hangs from a helicopter over the stricken liner after divers found two more dead bodies on deck number four of the Costa ConcordiaReuters
20120123 interior
23 January 2012: Two Italian Navy scuba divers inspect the interior of the Costa ConcordiaReuters/Marina Militare
20120126 funnel
26 January 2012: Firefighters stand next to a lighthouse near the Costa Concordia cruise ship which ran aground off Giglio IslandReuters
20120128 pool
28 January 2012: Divers in an inflatable boat motor past the slide and pool area of the cruise linerReuters
20120223 rock bodies
23 February 2012: Firefighters stand on top of the Costa Concordia during operations to bring up four bodies from the wreckReuters
20120223 helicopter
23 February 2012: The body of a victim, retrieved from the wrecked cruise ship, is airlifted by a helicopterReuters
20130113 anniversary
13 January 2013: Relatives of victims cry during a ceremony to commemorate the first anniversary of the Costa Concordia shipwreck, in which 32 people diedReuters
20130826 aerial
26 August 2013: An aerial view shows the Costa Concordia during preparations for an operation in which the ship would be rolled off the seabed and on to underwater platformsReuters
20130915 lightning
15 September 2013: A lightning storm is pictured over the sea near the capsized cruise liner the day before an operation to lift it off the seabedReuters
20130916 before
16 September 2013: The capsized cruise liner is pictured at the start of an operation to raise the wreckReuters
20130917 after
17 September 2013: The Costa Concordia is seen at the end of the 19-hour-long "parbuckling" operation to raise the wreckReuters
20140111 rusted
11 January 2014: Two years after the tragedy, the rusted wreck still lies of the coast of Giglio. Thirty massive tanks filled with air will lift the hulk of the Costa Concordia off the seabed in July so it can be towed awayReuters
20140212 cabins
12 January 2014: A seagull flies past once luxurious cabins. Refloating the Concordia will be one more phase in the largest maritime salvage in historyReuters
costa concordia
14 July 2014: The wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise ship rises out of the water during an operation to refloat the 114,500-tonne vesselAFP