It began like any other cruise, with more than 4,200 people aboard the Costa Concordia.
However, the scene became tragic on Saturday as the massive ship ran aground a few hundred metres off the tiny island of Giglio near Tuscany, Italy.
Rocks tore a 50-metre gash down one side of the hull and the ship took on water.
By Sunday morning five people were dead and 10 unaccounted for. Two of the victims were French and one was from Peru. Another 30 people were hurt; two people were seriously injured.
Others on board were from Italy, Germany, France and Britain. There were 1,000 crew members on board.
Twelve Canadians who had been on board were all accounted for and in good condition.
The scene reminded people of the Titanic, in which a giant oceanliner sank after hitting an iceberg. That happened in 1912.
Any similarity with the Titanic ended when passengers, trying desperately to flee the sinking Concordia, noticed the Concordia’s captain wrapped in blankets and sitting in a lifeboat.
There is a saying that, “the captain always goes down with his ship.” It implies that the captain must wait until everyone is safely off a sinking vessel before abandoning the ship himself.
However, in this case, Captain Francesco Schettino left the ship and was on the dock before everyone was off. He could face up to 12 years in jail for doing that, according to Italian naval laws.
The captain told reporters he did everything he could and didn’t leave before everyone was off. But that wasn’t true, because at least one crew member and two passengers were being rescued from the ship on Sunday, after the captain was on shore talking to the media. On Sunday Shettino was arrested and may be accused of crimes including murder. The ship’s first officer, Ciro Ambrosio, was also held by police on Sunday.
A couple from Canada said they had been watching a magic show in the ship’s theatre on Saturday when they felt a lurch, as though the ship was making a hard turn. And then there was a shudder, they said.
At first, passengers were told there was a problem with the electricity. However, that didn’t explain why the ship was starting to tilt, one passenger said.