At least three people were killed as a luxury cruise ship carrying about 4,200 ran aground off the coast of Italy last night, report AP and the AFP. The 950-foot-long cruise ship hit a reef near the small island of Giglio near Tuscany around 8pm, opening a 160-feet gash in the hull. The captain tried to sail the ship into shallower waters to make it easier for passengers to escape on lifeboats, but became stuck on a sandbar about 18 miles from the coast. Three bodies have been recovered, though unconfirmed reports say others had died.
As the listing of the ship worsened, many passengers were not able to use the ship's lifeboats and had to be rescued by helicopter or by rescue ships. "It was like a scene from the Titanic," said one passenger. Because Giglio has a population of only 1,500, evacuees filled the small island's schools, hotels, and a church, and the mayor called on "everyone with a roof" to help house survivors. (Read more cruise ships stories.)