John Hooper: Italian Cruise Ship Disaster!

If you have seen Titanic. That's what it was like: As icy seawater began to swamp the Costa Concordia, passengers desperately scrambled down ropes to safety. They fought over lifeboats, a mother crawled up almost vertical corridors in pitch blackness with her daughter, and elderly couples sobbed as icy decks slipped under water. A harrowing picture is emerging of the chaotic evacuation of more than 4,000 people from the luxury cruise ship that sank in the Mediterranean off the coast of Tuscany, killing at least three, and leaving several others critically hurt. As divers continued to search for possible missing or trapped passengers and crew of the Costa Concordia, survivors described scenes of total panic and confusion aboard, as crew were at first unwilling, then unable to launch lifeboats, while the ship listed into the freezing sea. Survivors described climbing down ladders and ropes to escape. Kirsty Cook, one of eight British dancers working on the cruise, said that she was "lucky to be alive" after using a rope ladder to climb down to a rescue boat. Another dancer, Rosie Metcalf, 22, from Dorset, had to cling to a fire hose before being winched to safety by a helicopter crew.

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