Update: Italian Cruise Ship Runs Aground, 6 Dead, 15 Missing

By MarEx 2012-01-16 10:04:57

Update: Monday January 16, 2012 - 10 a.m.:

Costa Cruise Lines CEO says the captain made an "unapproved unauthorized" deviation from the ships planned course that became a major factor in the Concordia's fate.

As of Monday morning, 6 people are confirmed dead, and 15 remain missing, after the hull of the 5-year-old cruise ship was torn open by rocks late Friday night off the Giglio coast.

The search for survivors was temporarily suspended after the ship slipped in rough weather.

Costa Cruise Lines CEO, Pier Luigi Foschi told reporters that Costa ships have their routes programmed and alarms sound when the ship deviates from its set course. The captain made a decision to deviate from that course.

Captain Francesco Schettino, 52, has worked for Cosat Cruise Lines for 11 years. He claims that the rocks he hit were not marked on his nautical chart. Capt. Schettino has been arrested for allegedly abandoning ship - since he was seen in the harbor around midnight Friday. The ship's officer is also being targeted and several others have been questioned.

The Concordia has 2,300 tons of oil fuel in 17 double-hulled tanks and and more oil in four other tanks.  Officials say there is a high risk of a damaging oil spill from these tanks. Plans to remove the fuel from the vessel will be underway as soon as it’s safe to do so. So far, no fuel has leaked.

Two U.S. passengers are still unaccounted for as well as an 84-year-old Italian and a 5-year-old.

The black box from the ship has been retrieved. Investigators will use this to determine what changes were made to the ships course and other movements before it ran aground.

Costa Cruise Line owner, Carnival Corporation, released a statement on Saturday expressing their "sympathies and heartfelt condolences," they also expressed gratitude to the Italian Coast Guard and local authorities assisting in the aftermath of the disaster. On Monday the cruise line giant saw its shares fall 23 percent in London. The U.S. is celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day and won't open for trading until Tuesday.

Also on Monday Carnival Corp. released a required announcement on the financial impact of the Costa Concordia incident. They say the company has insurance coverage for damage of the vessel with a $30 million deductible and personal injury liability insurance subject to a $10 million deductible. Carnival Corp. says they self-insure for loss of use of the vessel. Damage assessments taking place expect the vessel to be out of service for the rest of the fiscal year if not longer. The loss of use of the Concordia is expected to impact 2012 earnings by $85-$95 million.  Other costs are expected but the company says these "are not possible to determine at this time."

Saturday, January 14, 2012 - 9 a.m.: 

Divers are searching the submerged decks of an Italian cruise ship that ran aground off Italy’s west coast on Friday morning- in hopes of finding the 70 passengers who remain missing.

On Friday morning the Costa Concordia sailed from Civitavecchia near Rome for a Mediterranean cruise, that same evening it struck the rocks off Giglio.

Passengers onboard say they were eating dinner around 8 p.m. when they heard a loud boom. The initial announcement told passengers that the vessel had encountered an electrical fault and told passengers to put on lifejackets. Shortly after this announcement the ship began taking on water and listing. Passengers in evening wear began panicking, unsure what to do. The ship’s evacuation drill had not been planned until the next morning so passengers did not know how to evacuate the ship.

The Costa Concordia was carrying 4,200 passengers and crew when it ran aground. Eight people have been confirmed dead and about 70 are unaccounted for.  Officials say that some of those listed as missing may be safely housed in private residences on the small island of Giglio – other may be trapped in the ship.

Passengers from Italy, Germany, France, the UK and the U.S. were among the 3,200 passengers onboard. Another 1,000 crew members were onboard as well.
Some people were rescued by lifeboats and helicopters pulled others trapped on the ship to safety. Several of the lifeboats were unusable because the ship turned on its side so quickly. Other passengers jumped from the ship into the sea. About 40 people are being treated for hypothermia at a local hospital. Another 30 were seriously injured. One man in his 70s died from heart failure ue to shock  after jumping into the icy waters. Several passengers have compared the incident to the Titanic sinking, with stories of dishes crashing and passengers panicking and jumping overboard.

Initial dives of the surrounding water found no bodies, but officials expect others to be found among the decks.

The vessel is now lying on its side and a large gash can be seen in the hull. The five year old vessel is owned by Costa Cruise Lines which is owned by Carnival Corporation. The cruise line and the local coast guard say it is too early to know what caused the ship to ground. 

PHOTOS of the disaster (BBC). 


Amateur Video from onboard the vessel: