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Six dead, thousands evacuated from cruise ship off Italy

By Peter Mayer

ROME — Six people were reported killed after a cruise ship apparently hit a shoal and began taking water off Italy’s western coast, reports quoted rescue workers saying late Friday.

Italian news agency ANSA said most of the estimated 4,200 people aboard had been evacuated in lifeboats from the 290-metre Costa Concordia to the nearby island of Giglio.

“We are in a full emergency,” the island’s mayor Sergio Ortelli said of preparations to accommodate the rescued passengers.

The news agency said the Genoa-based vessel had apparently struck a shoal off the Punta Gabbianara cape and rolled onto one side.

It quoted rescuers as saying the evacuation became chaotic and several people fell into the water during the scramble for lifeboats.

The 1,500-cabin ship had sailed from the port of Civitavecchia earlier on Friday for the start of a Mediterranean cruise when its crew signaled an electrical fault to port authorities.

There were about 1,000 Italian passengers, 500 Germans and 150 French aboard.

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