Salvage workers Sunday began pumping fuel from the shipwrecked Italian cruise liner Costa Concordia, a day ahead of schedule, officials said.
Operations began at around 5:00 pm (1600 GMT) on the wreck off the Tuscan island of Giglio to remove fuel from seven of the massive ship's tanks, with conditions calm.
Picture taken on January 14, 2012 shows the Costa Concordia after the cruise ship ran aground and keeled over off the Isola del Giglio. Salvage workers Sunday began pumping fuel from the shipwrecked Italian cruise liner Costa Concordia, a day ahead of schedule, officials said.
The Costa Concordia ran aground on January 13 with a total of 4,229 people on board, an accident that cost the lives of 32 people. The bodies of 15 of those lost have still to be recovered.
Civil protection officials had originally said they would start the pumping operations on Monday, but preparations were completed ahead of time.
Dutch company Smit, working with the Italian firm Neri, is handling the operation, which will involve extracting 2,400 tonnes of fuel oil still inside the vessel to avoid what officials say would be an environmental disaster if it leaked into the sea.
They plan to complete the operation in 28 days if weather conditions remain stable, emptying a total of 15 tanks.