The salvage operation to move the capsized Costa Concordia away from the island of Giglio, where it ran aground three months ago, will begin next month, an official said on Thursday.
Civil Protection official Fabrizio Curcio told reporters at a conference on the island that he expected contracts to be signed by the end of April and the operation to begin in mid-May.
Sources close to the operation said two consortia were on the short list to carry out the salvage work. One was composed of Smit Salvage of the Netherlands and Italy's Neri and the other by Titan Salvage of the United States and Micoperi of Greece.
The ship, owned by Carnival Corp & Plc, capsized off the Tuscan island after hitting rocks on January 13. At least 30 people died and two are still unaccounted for.
The operation to pump more than 2,300 metric tons (2535.3 tons) of fuel out of the vessel was completed last month.