Emergency crews have discovered two more bodies on the luxury cruise ship that ran aground off the Italian island of Giglio, near Tuscany. According to the BBC, "The coastguard said divers had found the bodies of two unidentified elderly men trapped in a flooded area...on the third floor in a meeting area section of the ship."
The total number of fatalities from the Costa Concordia is at five, and there are still 17 people not yet accounted for; the ship was carrying 4,200 passengers and crew members. Crews were able to recover three survivors: A honeymooning couple from South Korean and a senior crew member were taken off the boat, which is nearly laying flat on its side in the waters. The crew member said, "I never lost hope of being saved. It was a 36-hour nightmare."
The 950-foot ship hit rocks in the shallow waters near the island on Friday night, and a panicked evacuation ensued. Captain Francesco Schettino is being held on suspicion of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship. However, he told Italian television, "We should have had deep water beneath us... We were about 300 metres (1,000ft) from the rocks more or less. We shouldn't have hit anything," and denied claims that he abandoned ship, "We were the last to leave the ship." However, a Coast Guard spokesman said, "Every danger in this area is on the nautical char. This is a place were a lot of people come for diving and sailing. ... all the dangers are known... We know where the ship was. We know it was too close to the island. ... we don't know why." Costa Cruises says that its ships use the route dozens of times a year.
As the investigation continues, passengers and crew members describe a chaotic scene. Tee NY Times reports:
“In a moment, everything was up in the air,” said Alessandra Grasso, 24, a passenger from Sicily. “People, chairs, glasses, food.”
...Ms. Grasso said waiters instructed diners to remain seated even as the ship began listing. The captain initially told passengers that the ship had an electrical problem, according to media reports.
Once she boarded a lifeboat, Ms. Grasso said, the helmsman appeared ill equipped to bring the scores of travelers on his vessel to safety: he kept banging into the ship, unable to steer the lifeboat to the shore, until a passenger shoved him aside and took the lead.
“No crew member was trained for an evacuation,” she said.
A crew member told BBC News, "We had no idea how serious it was until we got out and we looked through the window. We saw the water coming closer and closer." He said passengers were rushing and falling to get to lifeboats, "People panicking and pushing each other didn’t help at all." Passengers were reportedly also fighting over lifejackets.
Officials are also watching the slowly-submerging ship for the environmental impact of a possible fuel leakage.