Two Survivors Rescued from Sunk Italian Cruiser

Posted January 14th, 2012 at 8:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Firefighters have reached two survivors trapped in a cabin on the stricken Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia in the Tiranian Sea.

The firefighters had made voice contact with the couple Saturday and found them in a cabin. At least three people were killed when the ship ran aground Friday evening off the northern Italian coast and flipped on its side with a breach in its hull. More than 30 others were injured.

Officials say at least 40 people were still missing late Saturday.

Italian Captain Francesco Schettino was taken into custody Saturday after several hours of questioning. Italian news agency ANSA says he could be facing several charges, including homicide and abandonment of the ship.

Three bodies were recovered from the sea, and authorities say at least 40 people remain missing nearly 24 hours after the incident.

News reports say two Frenchmen died in the incident as well as one Peruvian crew member.

Emergency operations halted as night fell on Saturday, after divers spent the day scouring the half submerged cruise liner and the coast guard searched the surrounding waters.

Rescuers using lifeboats and helicopters evacuated most of the more than 4,000 passengers and crew members to the island of Giglio and to Porto Santo Stefano on the mainland early Saturday.

Passengers who made it safely to land recounted the chaotic and terrifying evacuation. One of them was an American tourist from Arkansas, who said some people had to swim to the shore.

“We were all standing there, and as the boat started going a little quicker, turning, I saw one of the cranes… It popped the life raft, and it exploded and it went boom! And it just crashed. There were two people on it, they got off I think.. we saw like five people jump in the water and start swimming, and I looked and the other crane next to me, which was three feet above water, one meter above water, was like two meters below water.”

Officials say some crew members may also still be trapped inside the ship.

Passengers were sitting down to dinner at the time of the incident and were told the ship was having electrical problems.

Investigation is underway to determine why the ship ran aground. When it hit the rocks, officials say, passengers were instructed to put on life jackets and to take to life rafts. However, those on board said the hull tilted so sharply and quickly that many lifeboats could not be lowered into the water.

The Costa Concordia is 290 meters long, with 13 decks. It had 13 bars, five restaurants, four swimming pools and 500 balconied staterooms.