Cruise ship runs aground off Tuscan coast

Cruise ship runs aground off Tuscan coastA luxury cruise ship ran aground off the coast of Tuscany, gashing open the hull and taking on water, forcing some 4,200 people aboard to evacuate aboard lifeboats to a nearby island early Saturday. At least three were dead, the Italian coast guard said.
Three bodies were recovered from the sea, said Coast Guard Cmdr. Francesco Paolillo. There were reports that three others had died after the accident late Friday night, but as the hours passed, those reports were not yet confirmed, he said.
Cruise ship runs aground off Tuscan coast
Helicopters plucked to safety some 50 people who were trapped on the Costa Concordia after the liner listed so badly they couldn’t launch lifeboats, Paolillo told The Associated Press in Rome by telephone from his command in the Tuscan port city of Livorno.
“We were having dinner aboard when we heard a loud noise, like that of the keel being dragged over something,” passenger Luciano Castro, who is a journalist, told Italian state radio early Saturday. The lights went out “and there were scenes of panic, glasses falling to the floor,” Castro said.
Another passenger on what set out to be an eight-day pleasure cruise around Mediterranean ports, Mara Parmegiani, also a journalist, told the ANSA news agency that “it was like a scene from the Titanic.”
Castro said some passengers told them that some people jumped into the sea to try to swim to safety on the reefs of nearby Giglio island, although he didn’t see anybody do that. He did say he met one survivor on land, a a young crewman from Asia, who told him he swam to the reefs.
As dawn neared, a painstaking search of the 290-meter (9.570 foot) long ship’s interior was being conducted to see if any one might have been trapped inside, Paolillo said. “No one is leaning out, shouting, calling that they need help, but until the inspection is completed, we won’t know.”
“There are some 2,000 cabins, and the ship isn’t straight,” Paolillo said, referring to the Concordia’s dramatic 20-degree tilt on its right side. “I’ll leave it to your imagination to understand how they (the rescuers) are working as they move through it.”
Some Concordia crew members were still aboard to help the coast guard rescuers inspect “every millimeter” of the ship, he said.
Authorities said
cruise ship runs aground off tuscan coast
Paolillo said it wasn’t immediately known if the dead were passengers or crew, nor were the nationalities of the victims immediately known. It wasn’t clear how they died.
Some 30 people were reported injured, most of them suffering only bruises, but at least two people were reported in grave condition.
Paolillo said the Concordia was believed to have set sail with 3,206 passengers and 1,023 crew members.
Some passengers, apparently in panic, had jumped off the boat into the sea, a Tuscany-based government official, Grosseto prefect Giuseppe Linardi, was quoted as saying. Authorities were trying to obtain a full passenger and crew list from Costa, so they could do a roll call to determine who might be missing.
The evacuees were taking refuge in schools, hotels, and a church on the tiny Tuscan island of Giglio, a popular vacation isle about 18 miles (25 kilometers) off Italy’s central west coast. Those evacuated by helicopter were flown to Grosseto, while others, rescued by local ferries pressed into emergency service, took survivors to the port of Porto Santo Stefano on the nearby mainland.

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