At least three bodies were recovered from the sea and at least five additional persons were feared dead, and with some 50 people still trapped aboard the badly listing Costa Concordia, said Coast Guard Commander Francesco Paolillo.
Paolillo said it wasn’t immediately known if the dead were passengers or crew, nor were the nationalities of the victims immediately known. It wasn’t clear how they died. The Italian news agency ANSA reported that some people had jumped overboard in the scramble to evacuate the ship, which had just begun a Mediterranean cruise.
The evacuees were taking refuge in schools, hotels, and a church on the tiny Tuscan island of Giglio, a popular vacation isle about 18 miles (25 kilometers) off Italy’s central west coast.
ANSA quoted two Italian journalists who happened to be among the passengers taking the Mediterranean cruise as saying the accident happened during dinner hour.
“We were dining when the lights went out, and suddenly we heard a bang and the dishes fell to the floor,” ANSA quoted one of the journalist-passengers, Luciano Castro, as saying.
“It was like a scene from the Titanic,” another passenger aboard, journalist Mara Parmegiani, told ANSA.
Paolillo said the exact dynamics of the accident were still unclear, but that the first alarm went off about 10:30pm (2130 GMT), about three hours after the Concordia had begun its voyage from the port of Civitavecchia, enroute to its first port of call, Savona, in northwestern Italy.
The coast guard official, speaking from the port captain’s office in the Tuscan port of Livorno, said the vessel “hit an obstacle” – it wasn’t clear if it might have hit a rocky reef in the waters off Giglio – “ripping a gash 50 meters (165 feet) across” on the left side of the ship, and started taking on water.
The cruise liner’s captain, Paolillo said, then tried to steer his ship toward shallow waters, near Giglio’s small port, to make evacuation by lifeboat easier.
But after the ship started listing badly onto its right side, lifeboat evacuation was no longer feasible, Paolillo said.
Five helicopters, from the coast guard, navy and air force, were taking turns airlifting survivors still aboard and ferrying them to safely. A Coast guard member was airlifted aboard the vessel to help people get aboard a small basket so they could be hoisted up to the helicopter, said Capt. Cosimo Nicastro, another Coast Guard official.
A statement from Costa Cruises, the company that runs the ship, confirmed that the evacuation of the 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew had begun, “but the position of the ship, which is worsening, is making more difficult the last part of the evacuation.”
Costa Cruises’ statement did not mention any casualties, and said it had not yet determined the cause of the problem.
Costa Cruises said the Costa Concordia was sailing on a cruise across the Mediterranean Sea, starting from Civitavecchia with scheduled calls to Savona, Marseille, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Cagliari and Palermo.
It said about 1,000 Italian passengers were onboard, as well as more than 500 Germans, about 160 French and about 1,000 crew members.
Admiralty Maritime Law and Wrongful Death Liability
Although admiralty law covers ship accidents, it does not subsume other laws.
There are usually many other local, federal state and international laws relating specifically to injuries at sea from negligence.
Most sea vessels are actually registered in foreign countries. Many of these vessels unfurl foreign flags. This means the country the ship is registered
in may have laws covering the vessel as well. Many of these laws might be better for the injured passenger than U.S. laws. This is why you need an
experienced cruise ship accident attorney. As an example, a ship that has its port of departure in Los Angeles, California may be covered under the laws
of the state of California, and the laws of the United States. It may also be covered under the laws of the country of the foreign flag the ship flys, as well as international treaties between the U.S. and the other. The Law Offices of Gary A. Kessler have the knowledge to litigate claims from foreign ports of call, and domestic ports of call.
You may need to bring claims against the U.S. under the Suits in Admiralty Act, or Public Vessels Act. The experienced cruise ship negligence attorneys at the Law Offices of Gary A. Kessler will sue whatever country is responsible for your oceanic injuries.
The Offices of Gary A. Kessler are expert in admiralty and maritime law, and can provide you with the legal representation you need to recover damages
for the negligence of an ocean liner, or for boating injuries or other accidents
that occur in the ocean, lakes, or rivers.
The highly skilled boating accident attorney Gary A Kessler (and the Law Offices of Gary A Kessler) has the experience and track record, handling dozens upon dozens of successful lawsuits against the owners and operators of private boats, personal watercraft, cruise ships and commercial ferries. If you or a loved one suffered an injury or death due to a boating accident or while engaged in water sporting activities, consult experienced personal injury lawyer Gary A Kessler who has handled these types of claims as soon as possible. The laws that apply to injuries that occur on or around the water are extremely complex and must be carefully analyzed to correctly determine the liability issues and the value of your boating fatality case.
Demand accountability from those responsible for the boating accidents. Many times the insurance companies will play “hardball” if you try to settle the case yourself or you have employed a lawyer who does not have the litigation experience to handle such a complex case. We at the Law Offices of Gary A Kessler have twenty years of litigation experience and know how to handle the insurance companies to your advantage. We are prepared to front all costs required for the neccessary investigation and expert witnesses needed to prepare your case for trial.
The laws regarding boating accident (drowning) cases are complex and include many facets of the law. It is vital to surviving family members to seek the advice of an experienced boating fatality lawyer such as Gary A Kessler at the Law Offices of Gary A Kessler to protect your rights and those of your loved ones.
The California wrongful death attorney Gary A Kessler and the Law Offices of Gary A Kessler are compassionate and fully understand that you are attempting to cope with extreme grief and sorrow associated with the loss of a loved one in a tragic boating fatality (drowning) accident. The Law Offices of Gary A Kessler carefully selects its wrongful death/drowning/boating fatality cases so that we may give you (the client) the substantial personal attention neccessary to obtain a successful result for your boating fatality/drowning accident case.
The Law Offices of Gary A Kessler is prepared to front all costs required for a thorough investigation and top expert witnesses to prepare for the trial of your case. As in all wrongful death and serious personal injury cases, we advance all legal costs to prepare and present our client’s claim, and receive for our services only a percentage of what we recover for our atorney fees on their behalf. Upon settlement our costs shall be reimbursed to us from the gross recovery. If there is no recovery, no attorneys fees or costs are owed to our firm.