On Saturday, Italian authorities questioned the captain of the Costa Cruises ship accident that occurred Friday night. The ship ran aground and turned onto its side, killing three people and leaving dozens more missing, officials reported.
Italian captain, Francesco Schettino, was being interviewed by investigators on Saturday about what happened when the 4,200-passenger Costa Concordia ship, owned by Genoa-based Costa Cruises, slammed into too-shallow water off Italy's western coast, said officer Emilio Del Santo of the Coastal Authorities of Livorno.
At the moment we can't exclude that the ship had some kind of technical problem, and for this reason moved towards the coast in order to save the passengers, the crew and the ship. But they didn't send a mayday. The ship got in contact with us once the evacuation procedures were already ongoing, Del Santo said.
Fear and panic are comprehensible in a ship over 300 meters long with over 4,000 passengers, Del Santo said. We can confirm that the ship has a breach on the hull of about 90 meters, and that the right side of it is completely under water.
Authorities do not understand why the Costa Cruises ship did not hail a mayday signal Friday night near the Italian island of Giglio.
Giuseppe Orsina, a spokesman with the local civil protection agency, said approximately 43 to 51 people are reported missing, though authorities are checking the passenger lists to confirm an exact figure. The Coast Guard believed 50 to 70 people could be missing.
These people could be still on the island of Giglio, in private houses or in hospitals, Orsina said.
Rescue teams worked through the night Friday to evacuate over 4,000 people from the Costa Concordia, owned by Genoa-based Costa Cruises, after it ran aground off of Italy's western coast, reported CNN.
The ship is currently lying on its side in the shallow waters. It ran aground around dinner time, carrying 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew members. Passengers reported that the light went out and everyone knew the ship had hit something. Chaos ensued.
Laurie Willits from Ontario, who was watching a magic show with her husband when it happened, told CNN: We heard a scraping noise to the left of the ship and then my husband said 'we're sliding off our seats.'
Panic spread as people rushed to the lifeboats in the dark. Access to the boats was hampered by the ship's tilt in the water. Willits and her husband, who got a lifeboat about an hour to 90 minutes after the alarm, watched the ship sink to a 90-degree angle.
Three people were killed. An additional 14 people were injured, Adm. Ilarione Dell'Anna, head of coastal authorities for the port city of Livorno, told CNN.
I'm exhausted, I haven't had any sleep, I'm hungry, Willits said, but added that she was relieved to have been able to call her family thanks to the help of people on the island.
Dell'Anna said an investigation is underway. There has probably been a technical blackout, he said. The ship was dangerously near the coast. We worked all night in a state of maximum emergency.
Fortunately the sea conditions have helped us, otherwise -- given the high number of people to rescue, 4,231 -- we could have had a completely different scenario -- a real tragedy.