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January 14, 2012

Giant Cruise Ship Runs Aground

50 to 70 people are missing. They might be on the Italian island of Giglio. It's not clear whether the ship ran into the island or whether it hit something and then pushed toward the island to save the passengers. Over 4000 were on board. High-res pictures.

More from MSNBC:

Paolillo, 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.

I think I've located the site on Google Earth: 4221'54.97"N, 1055'17.47"E. Paste these coordinates into the Google Earth search field or hit satellite view in Google Maps. (Leave off the period.) You can see the harbor, the two piers, and the large rock the ship appears to be near.

Update: From The Telegraph, the captain says that they hit "a rocky spur" in waters that, according to charts, should have been safe:

"As we were navigating at cruise speed, we hit a rocky spur," he told Tgcom24 television station:

"According to the nautical chart, there should have been sufficient water underneath us," he added.

According to a report at MailOnline, the ship was four miles off course when it hit; the captain has been arrested, and right now, divers are searching for trapped passengers.

The first report I read said the ship was traveling south from Savona to Civitavecchia. The story at MailOnline indicates it was traveling north. Considering the location of the damage--on the port side--that makes more sense. There is a nice graphic at the link.

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posted by rdbrewer at 12:42 PM

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