ROME, Feb. 26, 2010 — -- An Italian luxury cruise ship crashed into a pier at the Red Sea port of Sharm El Sheik early today while attempting to dock in very rough weather.
Three crew members aboard the ship were killed in the accident and a fourth crew member and three passengers were slightly injured, according to Costa Crociere, the owner of the luxury liner Costa Europa.
The injured passengers included two British and one Italian citizen. They were taken to an Egyptian hospital for a check-up, and released soon after, according to a spokesperson for Costa Crociere.
Costa Crociere would not comment on the nationality of the dead sailors, but local media reports said two were Indian and one was Brazilian.
The cruise company could also not say exactly where on the ship the sailors were when it crashed. An investigation is underway, they said.
According to a statement released by Costa Crociere offices in Genoa, Italy, the 55,000 ton Costa Europa was on an 18-day cruise from Dubai to Savona, Italy with 1,437 guests on board when it rammed into the pier while docking at Sharm El Sheik at 4:45 a.m. local time.
The ship suffered damage on the right side, listed and started to leak.
All the passengers were quickly disembarked, and the ship safely moored in port, but the cruise is over. The company spokesperson said that Costa Crociere is arranging for all the passengers to be flown back to their countries of origin.
An Italian Navy ship, part of the Italian contingent of the Multinational Force and Observer, an independent international organization with peacepeeking responsibilites in the Sinai, is assisting with the repair of the ship and pumping out the water, according to Italian news agency ANSA.