Saturday January 14th, 2012
ImageA luxury cruise liner has ran aground off the coast of Italy. the Costa Concordia was carrying more than three thousand passengers and a thousand crew. Three people have been confirmed dead and reports suggest that there could be further casualties.
Costa Concordia started to sink near the island of Giglio, off the Tuscan coast, and a massive rescue operation was launched which included five helicopters and divers.

It is thought that the 290m long vessel hit a rocky reef ripping a 50 metre slice on the Port side.The ship listed so badly that the lifeboats could not be launched so some passengers were rescued by helicopter.

Cmdr Francesco Paolillo reported that the Costa Concordia captain responded to the grounding by trying to steer towards the shallow waters near the port of Giglio in order to make the major rescue effort easier. Some passengers were reported to have jumped from the ship into the water.

Passenger Luciano Castro said “We were having dinner when all of a sudden the lights went out,' he said. 'It seemed as if the ship struck something and then we heard a load bang and everything fell to the floor.

''The captain immediately came on the tannoy and said that there had been an electrical fault but it seemed very strange as the ship almost immediately began to list to one side. The glasses just slid off the table.
''We were then told to put on our life vests and head to the lifeboats just to be safe but there was a real panic onboard you could see it in the faces of the people especially those with young families.
''Then a few minutes later there were seven whistles which meant everyone had to get in the lifeboats.''

And passenger Mara Parmegiani said: ''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.''

A statement by Costa Cruises read 'Our first thoughts go to the victims and we would like to express our condolences and our closeness to their families and friends.
'In this moment all our efforts are focused on the completion of the last emergency operations, besides providing assistance to the guests and the crew who were onboard.'
'The company will fully co-operate with the relevant authorities in order to determine the causes of what happened.'

If you are concerned about any family or loved ones aboard the Costa Concordia you can call the Foreign Office on 0207 008 1500 or the British Embassy in Rome on (+39) 064 2200 001

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