3 die after huge Italian cruise ship runs aground

Rescuers still searching ship, surrounding waters for survivors; ship ran aground, hitting a sandbar near island of Giglio.

Italian cruise ship runs aground_311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Italian cruise ship runs aground_311
(photo credit: Reuters)
ROME - At least three people were killed and rescuers were looking for other victims on Saturday after a large Italian cruise ship carrying more than 4,000 people ran aground overnight, the coast guard said.
A dramatic nighttime rescue operation involving lifeboats, ships and helicopters went on for hours after the 114,500 gross tonnes Costa Concordia hit a sandbar near the island of Giglio as passengers were finishing dinner.
RELATED:Israeli cruise ship to sail for Egypt
The 290-meter-long ship took on water and started listing. Coast guard officials said there was no danger of it sinking, pictures taken by passengers and shown on television showed the luxury vessel almost on its side on the sandbar by dawn.
Coast guard Captain Luciano Nicastro said three people were confirmed dead, fewer than the six reported earlier by Italian media.
But, speaking on live television, he said rescue workers were still searching the ship, which had just started a winter Mediterranean cruise, and the waters around it.
Most of the 3,200 passengers and 1,023 crew on board the ship had been evacuated to the island of Giglio and from there were being taken to the mainland.
Nicastro said scuba divers were searching the water and rescue squads were looking in lower decks to see if any people were still on board.
Most of the passengers on board were believed to be Italian but the cruises are popular with foreigners too.
The cruise ship company said the cause of the incident was being investigated.