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Dublin: 15°C Saturday 20 August 2022

Cruise ship runs aground off Italy, 3 bodies found

An Irish couple were on board the cruise liner but the DFA has confirmed they were not hurt in the accident.

Image: AP Photo/Giorgio Fanciulli,

Updated 10.08

THE ITALIAN COASTGUARD has been operating a rescue mission overnight after a cruise ship ran aground off the coast of Tuscany.

Media reports this morning have said that up to eight people could have been killed as the vessel began to take on water. The bodies of at least three people have already been recovered.

Another 14 people have been injured. The official death toll remains at three but there are fears there could be up to five more people dead.

The ship has now started to sink, according to the latest reports and images show the liner is half-submerged.

Some 4,200 people – including about 1,000 crew members – were evacuated from the boat after the hull opened and started taking on water.

Five helicopter rescue teams from the coast guard, navy and air force rescued about 50 people who were trapped on the Costa Concordia.

Passengers were taking an eight-day pleasure cruise around Mediterranean ports.

It is understood that some travellers jumped into the sea and tried to swim to safety.

The exact death toll or the nationalities of the victims is yet to be determined, Italian authorities have said. The tour operators said there were 1,000 Italians, 500 Germans and 160 French on board.

The Department of Foreign Affairs told that it is providing consular assistance to two Irish people who were on the liner. Neither are injured, a spokesperson for the department said.

There were 24 British passengers on board, according to Sky News.

Survivors are now being sheltered in schools, hotels and a church in the Tuscan island of Giglio. The island’s mayor has appealed to residents to open their homes to evacuees.

The coast guard is still unsure of what caused the accident but the first alarm was sounded by crew members at 10.30pm last night, about three hours after the Concordia had left the port Civitavecchia, en route to its first port of call, Savona, in northwestern Italy.

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The ship hit “an obstacle”, possibly the rocky reef in the waters off the island, ripping a 50 metre gash in the hull.

The cruise liner’s captain is said to have tried to steer his ship toward shallow waters to make evacuation by lifeboat easier. But after the ship started listing badly onto its right side, lifeboat evacuation was no longer feasible.

The LA Times reports that officials said that although the boat is listing (tilted) it is not in any danger of sinking. However, latest images seem to indicate this advice as incorrect.

The newspaper also reports that one of the victims was a man in his 70s who suffered a heart attack after he jumped in the water.

Image from the Isola del Giglio webcam, courtesy of Cruise and Blog Radio

-Additional reporting by AP

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