Pumping is under way to remove more than 2,300 tonnes of fuel from the grounded Costa Concordia cruise ship.

It is more than three weeks since the ship hit a reef and capsized off the Italian island of Giglio.

There are 17 people confirmed dead and 15 more are missing and presumed dead.

The operation to pump out the fuel is expected to take about four weeks to complete.

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.

Bart Huizing, who is leading the salvage team, said they are hoping for a spell of good weather to allow them to make progress.