Costa Concordia: the 21st century Titanic
Italian rescuers are working on the site where the Costa Concordia cruise ship has sunk near the island of Giglio, Tuscany. 70 people remain missing.
The Costa Concordia had set off the Civitavecchia port near Rome on Friday on a Mediterranean cruise. It ran aground 10 pm local time with a 70-m underwater hole in its left side. The ship listed heavily to one side and partially submerged. By mid day, it was almost entirely sunk. The liner was carrying 4,200 people: 3,200 passengers and over 1,000 crewmen.
The passengers were in real panic, says VoR correspondent in Italy, Marina Tantushyan:
"The passengers were having dinner when they heard a loud bang, the lights went out, and the cutlery fell onto the floor. Everybody was gripped by panic. Some managed to put their life vests on and board the life boats, while others didn’t wait to be evacuated and jumped into the freezing water. According to some witness reports, 3 people have died, while according to others there were 6 casualties"
Officials report that 67 people have been injured and several more passengers remain missing. The majority of the passengers have been evacuated.
The Giglio authorities are sheltering the rescued holidaymakers in schools, hotels and kindergartens but the rescue operation is far from being over.
The governor of the province of Grosseto Giuseppe Linardi says that rescuers and divers still need to search the submerged part of the hull.
Russian diplomats have set off to the region to help Russian citizens. According to Russia’s embassy in Rome, there were over 100 Russians on board, and they are all safe and sound. Head of the Consular section of Russia’s Embassy in Italy Igor Bogdashev told VoR:
"There were 108 Russians on board, and none of them have been reported killed or injured. One of our diplomats is gone to Grosseto where the rescue headquarters is based while another diplomat is currently at the hotel in Rome where about 50 rescued tourists are being shelterd. Russia’s Consulates in Milano, Genoa and Rome are working 24/7 ready to help."
The diplomats will have to issue new identity for the Russian citizens as they have lost their passports in the disaster having left them with the staff during the registration procedure. It is possible that at least some of their identity papers will be retrieved.
Italy’s government has launched a probe into the accident. The two main versions are a technical glitch and the human factor.