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Cruise Ship Runs Aground In Italy

Italian cruise ship sinking
The cruise ship, the Costa Concordia, sinks after running aground: Image Rvongher

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.

Note: This is a breaking story. New facts will emerge over the coming hours and days. Follow the story in your local newspaper for the latest developments.

By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
It is very rare for a cruise ship to sink. Although people are unsure about why the ship hit the rocks, several explanations have been offered: the captain was not doing his job properly; the maps did not show the rocks; the technology on the ship wasn’t working. Can you think of any other possibilities? What do you think may have happened?

Reading Prompt:
Do you think the captain should have stayed on the ship until all of the passengers were off? If not, why? If yes, (if he is found guilty of leaving) do you think he should go to jail?

Use evidence from the article and your own ideas to explain your thinking.

Make judgements and draw conclusions about the ideas and information in texts and cite stated or implied evidence from the text to support their views (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Evaluate the effectiveness of both simple and complex texts based on evidence from the texts (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Grammar Feature: Synonyms
A synonym is a word that means the same thing as another word. For example, a synonym for the word ‘ship’ is ‘boat’. Can you think of any other synonyms for ‘ship’?

Find three other words in the article and think of synonyms for each of them.