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Published January 14 2012

Cruise ship runs aground off Italy, 3 bodies found; helicopters rescue others

PORTO SANTO STEFANO, Italy (AP) — A luxury cruise ship ran aground off the coast of Tuscany, sending water pouring in through a 160-foot (50-meter) gash in the hull and forcing the evacuation of some 4,200 people from the listing vessel early Saturday, the Italian coast guard said.

Three bodies were recovered from the sea, said Coast Guard Cmdr. Francesco Paolillo. There were reports that three other people had died after the accident late Friday night near the tiny Tuscan island of Giglio, but those reports were not yet confirmed, he said.

Twelve hours after the accident, the ship was lying virtually flat, its right-hand side submerged in the water.

Passengers complained the crew failed to give instructions on how to evacuate the Costa Concordia and that the evcauation drill was only scheduled for Saturday afternoon. Authorities still hadn't counted all the survivors.

“It was so unorganized, our evacuation drill was scheduled for 5 p.m.,” said Melissa Goduti, 28, of Wallingford, Connecticut, who had set out on the cruise of the Mediterranean hours earlier. “We had joked what if something had happened today.”