Italy is marking the tenth anniversary of the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster that killed 32 people in January 2012.

The luxury liner capsized and sank as it approached the Tuscan island of Giglio to perform a manoeuvre close to the shore.

A memorial mass was held in San Lorenzo church on the island this morning to commemorate the tragedy.

Residents, survivors and relatives also laid flowers on the sea where the Italian vessel smashed into the rocks.

The liner was carrying 4,229 people from 70 countries (File image)
People and officials arrive to attend a memorial service in the port of Giglio

Ester Percossi, a survivor of the shipwreck, said he can still hear the screams, feel the cold and see the terror in people's eyes.

Ms Percossi and other survivors returned to the island to pay tribute to the dead and again thank the islanders who, in the dark and dead of winter, helped 4,200 crew and passengers, more than six times the number of winter residents that night.

"It is extremely emotional. We come here today to remember, most importantly, those who are no longer with us and to relive the hell that we went through and try in some way to exorcise it," Ms Percossi said.

"I remember the screams of the people, the people who were jumping into the sea. I remember the cold, the sensation of terror in everybody's eyes."

A memorial has been erected to the Costa Concordia victims

Ship horns sounded and church bells will ring out at 9.45pm to mark the moment the liner, owned by Costa Crociere, a subsidiary of US-based giant Carnival, struck an outcrop, after captain Francesco Schettino ordered a sail-by "salute" to the Tuscan island.

Former captain Francesco Schettino was convicted in 2015of multiple counts of manslaughter

Schettino, later sentenced to 16 years for the shipwreck, delayed sounding the alarm.

The former captain was convicted in 2015 of multiple counts of manslaughter, causing a maritime accident and abandoning ship before all passengers and crew had been evacuated.

The liner, carrying 4,229 people from 70 countries, ran aground while many passengers were at dinner.

One crew member who did not leave was Russel Rebello, a waiter who helped passengers get off the ship.

His body was recovered only several years later, when the massive, rusting hulk was righted and towed away in the most expensive maritime wreck recovery in history.

"My brother did his duty, he lost his life helping other people, obviously I am proud of that and I think that he would be very proud of what he did, helping so many other people," said Russel's brother Kevin as he arrived for the commemorations.

"I am trembling, this is amazing," Mr Rebello said as he entered San Lorenzo church for the memorial Mass.

The Concordia was left on its side for two-and-a-half years, looking like a giant beached white whale. For some residents, it never left.

Italian Carabinieri Police Divers under the wreck of the Costa Concordia

On the night of the disaster Sister Pasqualina Pellegrino, an elderly nun, opened up the local school, the convent and a canteen to take in the shipwrecked.

"It is a memory that never fades. Even when the ship was still there, it looked like a person who had been abandoned, it oozed sadness, because I could see it from the window," Sister Pasqualina said.

"And even now it's not nice to remember it. But unfortunately that's life, you have to keep going with the pain, with the joy, day by day," she said.

Evacuation began over an hour after the collision, by which point the lifeboats on one side were unusable.

Images shot later by the coastguard would show divers in the sunken restaurant searching for victims.

Schettino has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights.

His lawyers are expected to request this year that he serve the rest of his sentence at home for good behaviour.