Pumping has started to remove more than 2,300 tonnes of diesel from the grounded Costa Concordia cruise ship, Italian officials have said.
It began on Sunday afternoon, nearly a month after the ship hit a reef and capsized off the island of Giglio.
Dutch salvage company Smit is conducting the operation to pump out the fuel, which is expected to take about four weeks to complete.
As oil is removed, water will be forced in via a second hose to fill the vacuum.
The process had been delayed by both the search and rescue operation and bad weather, prompting fears of a leak into the protected waters off the island.
Seventeen people died when the ship capsized and 15 more are presumed dead.
Click here to see original article 13th February 2012