Costa Concordia cruise ship Friday night, prior to sinking. Photo: (by Sestini - Corriere della Sera) via United States Embassy in Rome

UPDATE: The captain of the cruise ship COSTA CONCORDIA has been arrested by Italian police as an investigation into Friday night’s grounding is launched.  Read: Updated: Cruise Ship Costa Concordia Sinks off Italian Coast [VIDEO, AIS Track]

Earlier: Word is out that the cruiseship COSTA CONCORDIA went aground Friday night. But aground doesn’t accurately describe the current situation, which I would describe as a sinking.

Holidaymakers from Britain, France, Italy and Germany were forced to flee the 1,500-cabin Costa Concordia in lifeboats when it hit a reef less than two hours after leaving port.

Some leapt overboard and swam to shore as the ship started to sink into the waters near the island of Giglio, off the Tuscan coast.

Francesco Paolillo, the coastguard spokesman, said that at least three bodies were retrieved from the sea and at least three more were feared dead.

Local officials are also reporting that 69 people are still unaccounted for.

By this morning, the ship was lying virtually flat off Giglio’s coast, its starboard side submerged in the water. – Telegraph, UK (Click to read the whole article)

Here are two photos from USA Today of the accident:

According to a New York Times report:

“We had to scream at the controllers to release the boats from the side,” said Mike van Dijk, a 54-year-old from Pretoria, South Africa. “We were standing in the corridors and they weren’t allowing us to get onto the boats. It was a scramble, an absolute scramble.”

The vessel “hit an obstacle” — it was not clear if it might have hit a rocky reef in the waters off Giglio — “ripping a gash 50 meters across” in the side of the ship, and started taking on water.

The cruise liner’s captain, Commander Paolillo said, then tried to steer his ship toward shallow waters, near Giglio’s small port, to make evacuation by lifeboat easier.

But after the ship started listing badly, lifeboat evacuation was no longer feasible, Commander Paolillo said.

Surely there will be more to follow regarding this incident.

 

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