January 14, 2012- A cruise ship ran aground Friday night near Giglio Island, off the coast of Italy, killing at least three and injuring many. Costa Cruises, the owner of Costa Concordia, the ship that ran aground said a sand bank was the cause of the incident. The incident took place Friday evening near dinnertime. Over 3,200 passengers were on board at the time of the incident plus 1,000 members of the crew.
First reports released said at least six had lost their lives but that figure was later dropped to three. The full number of injured has not be determined. Emergency personnel said part of the ship was still submerged in water and that could cause the death and injury toll to increase.
The ships remaining passengers were being airlifted to safety by helicopters as the ship was listing very badly to one side. Evacuation of the ship took place promptly but was very difficult due to the ships position said one emergency worker. Some of the passengers fell or jumped into the cold waters during the evacuation process.
Rescue personnel said they were lucky the sea conditions were favorable otherwise; the incident could have been a huge tragedy. Churches and other buildings on the island became makeshift shelters as many of the passengers were brought ashore. The majority of passengers on the ship were Italian along with some German and French citizens. One source also said there were over 30 Peruvians on board as well.