Cruise ship runs aground off Italy, 3 dead

Last Updated 8:07 p.m. ET

PORTO SANTO STEFANO, Italy — Divers searched the submerged part of a luxury cruise liner that went aground off Italy's coast in case any of about 40 people unaccounted for might be trapped inside, a coast guard official said Saturday.

Three bodies were recovered from the sea after the luxury cruise Costa Concordia ran aground and tipped over off the tiny island of Giglio near the coast of Tuscany late Friday. Rescuers searching the wrecked ship for the missing found two survivors late Saturday in a cabin on the ship. They were in good condition, rescuers told the ANSA Italian news agency.

On Saturday the ship was lying virtually flat off Giglio's coast, its starboard side submerged in the water and a 160-foot gash showing clearly on its upturned hull.

A coast guard official said those unaccounted for might be "in the belly of the ship."

Capt. Cosimo Nicastro of the Coast Guard said Saturday divers are helping carry out a risky operation to inspect the submerged half of the Costa Concordia in case anyone remained trapped inside.

Italian media is reporting that the captain of the ship has been detained by police and is being held in a "stato di fermo" - detained for questioning - with prosecutors having 48 hours to arrest him or let him go. Corriere della Sera is reporting that the first officer has been detained as well.

Passengers described a scene reminiscent of "Titanic," saying they escaped the ship by crawling along upended hallways, desperately trying to reach safety as the lights went out and plates and glasses crashed. Helicopters whisked some survivors to safety, others were rescued by private boats in the area, and witnesses said some people jumped from the ship into the dark, cold sea.

Fact sheet: The Costa Concordia cruise liner

Nicastro told Sky TG24 TV there are no firm indications that anyone was trapped. But he notes rescuers carried out an extensive search of the waters near the ship for hours and "we would have seen bodies."

ANSA quoted the prefect's office in the province of Grosseto as saying that authorities have accounted for 4,165 of the 4,234 people who had boarded the liner.

One of the victims was a Peruvian crew member, a diplomat from the South American country said, adding that a Peruvian woman was also missing. The ANSA new agency identified the other two fatalities as French passengers, but didn't cite a source.

At least one of the dead is believed to have succumbed to a heart attack when he panicked and jumped into icy waters, reports CBS News correspondent Alan Pizzey.

Pizzey reports that some passengers were complaining that, as they came off the ship, no one was actually counting them. With more than 3,000 passengers and more than 1,000 crew members, there are a lot of people to account for among those rescued by lifeboats, ships and helicopters.

Passengers complained the crew failed to give instructions on how to evacuate and once the emergency became clear, delayed lowering the lifeboats until the ship was listing too heavily for many of them to be released.

A photograph taken early on January 14, 2012 of the Costa Concordia after the cruise ship with more than 4,000 people on board ran aground and keeled over off the Isola del Giglio, an Italian island, last night.
STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images

Carnival Corp., which owns the cruise line that the ship belongs to, didn't address the allegations in a statement it issued.

"Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the grounding of the Costa Concordia and especially the loved ones of those who lost their lives. They will remain in our thoughts and prayers in the wake of this tragic event."

Authorities have been checking names against the passenger list, but have had a hard time accounting for everyone. They still hadn't counted all the survivors by the time they reached the mainland 12 hours later.

An evacuation drill was scheduled for Saturday afternoon, even though some passengers had already been on board for several days.

"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?'"

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