15 Jan 2012

Cruise ship runs aground off Italy

5:20 am on 15 January 2012

At least three people are confirmed dead after a cruise ship carrying more than 4000 people ran aground off Italy.

The Costa Concordia was on a trip around the Mediterranean when it hit a reef near the Isola del Giglio.

The BBC reports that rescue teams have been going from cabin to cabin searching for survivors.

Most of the 3200 passengers and 1000 crew members were quickly evacuated, but coast guards struggled to rescue around 200 people stuck on board.

Three people were confirmed dead, Italian coast guard officials said on Saturday morning - fewer than the six or eight deaths reported by Italian media earlier.

A passenger from the boat said they heard a large bang and were initially told the ship had shuddered to a halt for electrical reasons, before being told to put on their life-jackets.

The Costa Crociera company, which owns the vessel, said that it was not yet possible to say what caused the problem, but that the evacuation had been fast.