The cruise ship Costa Concordia hit a reef off the island of Giglio, off the Tuscan coast on Friday night. A 160 foot gash in the hull sent water pouring into the ship. The local media has reported that there have been 3 reported deaths out of the 4,200 people on board. One 70 year old man reportedly died from a heart attack caused by shock to his system when he entered the icy waters. An estimated 60-80 passengers are still missing.
The newspaper Il Messaggero also stated that many people escaped in lifeboats and many were still missing. Many passengers also were reported to have jumped overboard and swam to a nearby island. Helicopters and spot lights are being used to located and rescue those still in the cold water.
As of 1:20 am local time Saturday morning, about 200 remained onboard the vessel. There were 3,200 passengers onboard at the time of the incident and over 1,000 crew members.
The passengers were originally told that it was an electrical fault but the ship immediately began to list to one side. The lights went out after a loud bang and almost everything fell to the floor in one of the dining rooms. One passenger told the Telegraph: “It was just like something out of the Titanic. You could tell straight away that the ship had hit something and no way was it an electrical fault.”
Another passenger was reported saying, “It was like a scene out of the Titanic”.
This is the 2nd time in a week that a cruise ship has hit a reef. Earlier this week, the MSC Poesia hit a reef off the coast of the Bahamas, no serious injuries were reported.
Passengers have complained that the crew failed to give proper instructions on how to evacuate the cruise ship. There was an evacuation drill planned to take place on Saturday afternoon at 5pm. The cruise left port just a few hours before, passengers had little time to settle into cabins or have dinner when tragedy struck the ship. Everyone was instructed to put on their life jacket and get into the life boats. However, due to the ship leaning to one side, many of the passengers were unable to get into the boats.
The captain, Franceso Schettino, has been arrested and is being investigated for manslaughter and abandoning ship. Authorities also are trying to find out why the ship did not hail mayday after the accident.
Costa is a division of Carnival Cruise Lines.
Cruise Fever will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.