Gavin Jones and Antonio Denti –
About 40 people were still missing Sunday more than 24 hours after an 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-tonne 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 lifejackets in panic when the ship hit a rock and ran aground near the island of Giglio late 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 lifejackets from each other. We could only gets ones for children.”
Passengers said mainly Asian crew members, few of them able to speak Italian, struggled to bring order to the evacuation.
Early Sunday, firefighters found two people 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.