Workers in a small boat pass by the Costa Concordia cruise ship laying near the Italian island of Giglio, January 7, 2013. The giant ship ran aground and casized on January 13, 2012, leaving 32 people dead. / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images
Five German cruise ship passengers, eager to visit the wreck of the cruise ship Costa Concordia, had to be rescued after the small inflatable boat they'd rented began foundering at sea.
U.K. broadcaster Sky News reports that the Italian Coast Guard rescued the party of five tourists - including two small children - after their boat was swamped by waves outside Porto Santo Stefano.
All were reported to be suffering from hypothermia.
Officials from the Guardia Costiera said that the party of tourists had hired the boat so they could view close-up the wrecked ship still lying on its side off the island of Giglio.
The 950-foot-long Costa Concordia carrying 4,200 passengers and crew struck rocks and capsized on January 13 last year. Thirty-two people aboard were killed.
Efforts by salvage crews to right the ship are underway.
Sky News reports that while the German tourists managed to sail the 10 miles from Porto Santo Stefano to Giglio, they ran into rough weather on the return voyage, and their boat took on water. High winds made the task of controlling their craft even more difficult.
They were picked up by a Coast Guard vessel - cold and wet - and returned to land, where they were checked over by paramedics.
''It was a pretty stupid thing to do," one official in Porto Santo Stefano told Sky News. "They were lucky that it ended as it did - they could have quite easily sank.
"They suffered no lasting effects but we did tell them not to try anything similar in the future.''
Prosecutors have accused the captain of the Costa Concordia, Francesco Shettino, of sailing the luxury liner too close to shore. He faces multiple charges of manslaughter and of abandoning ship.
Last Thursday at a Naples courtroom, Schettino brought a case against Costa Cruises, the ship's operator, for wrongful dismissal.