7 Israelis rescued after Italian ship runs aground

Foreign Ministry announces that 7 Israelis are safe, well; firefighters find 2 people alive in cabin; forty still missing.

January 15, 2012 00:39
2 minute read.
Italian cruise ship runs aground

Italian cruise ship runs aground_311. (photo credit: Reuters)

Seven Israelis were rescued from the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia that ran aground Friday night, the Foreign Ministry announced Saturday night.

The Foreign Ministry stated that all seven were safe and well, and that the Israeli embassy in Rome was attending to their needs. However, the Foreign Ministry added that at this stage it was not known whether their were any other Israelis on board the ship. 

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About 40 people were still missing on Sunday more than 24 hours after the Italian cruise ship with more than 4,000 on board capsized off Italy's west coast, killing at least three people and injuring 70.

The captain of the luxury 114,500-ton Costa Concordia was being held in jail accused of multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship, Italian police said.

Passengers, some saying it felt like a rerun of the Titanic disaster, told of people leaping into the sea and fighting over life jackets in panic when the ship hit a rock and ran aground near the island of Giglio late on Friday.

"I was sure I was going to die. We were in the lifeboats for two hours, crying and holding on to each other," said Antonietta Sintolli, 65, breaking down in tears as she recounted the event. "People were trying to steal life jackets from each other. We could only gets ones for children."

Passengers said the mainly Asian crew members, few of them able to speak Italian, were slow to respond to the disaster and struggled to bring order to the evacuation.

Early on Sunday, firefighters found two people, both South Koreans, still alive in a cabin after making voice contact with them from several decks above, Italian media reported.

An official involved in the rescue operation said two French tourists and a Peruvian crew member were dead.

There were fears the death toll could rise in one of Italy's worst shipping disasters in years as specialist diving teams checked interior spaces of the vessel.

"We don't rule out the possibility that more people will be lost," said fire services spokesman Luca Cari. It was not clear how many of those unaccounted for could still be trapped in the ship or simply had not been counted among those rescued.

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