Nightly News

Nightly News   |  January 15, 2012

Search on after cruise ship capsizes

Divers were out in cold water, searching for survivors after the Costa Concordia ran aground and capsized. NBC’s Michelle Kosinski reports from the Italian coast.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> good evening. there have beeneveral major developments in the search and recovery operation aboard that capsized cruise ship off the coast of italy. since our broadcast last night, three people have been recovered alive from the partially sunken ship . but the death toll has also sen to five now with two americans now listed among 15 people still unaccounted for. the costa concordia ran aground near the tuscan island of gigli on friday night and the cruise ship company admitted the accident may have been the relt of significant human error on the part of the ship's captain. the rescued were taken to the main land town of porto santo stefano where michelle kosinski is tonight to bring us the very latest. michelle?

>> reporter: good evening, lester. what happened here? from the beginning, questions surrounded the captain. he was arrested, under investigation. well, tonight his employer says it appears he brought the enormous cruise liner too close to shore, then made mistakes handling it, plus investigators now say he himself was on shore while passengers were still scrambling to get off the ship. this was friday night. and the latest rescue from on board was this afternoon. 48 hours after the costa concordia began its panic inducing roll, rescuers keep looking. this man saved, a ship's officer trapped for more than a day and a half. but soon after, searchers reached two elderly men, who had not survived. new video emerged today from around 10:00 friday, just after passengers heard a loud rumble, felt a sharp tilting and then got a reassuring announcement.

>> due to an electrical function, which is currently under control, we're currently in a blackout. i will inform you of developments as they occur.

>> reporter: with the lights, the calm also went. people running, screaming, desperate for escape.

>> it took us five tries on different boats to get on. my husband and i finally got on and we feel so fortunate. we feel so fortunate that we made it on a boat because others didn't.

>> reporter: by the time the lifeboats were lowered, by some accounts more than an hour after the collision, the ship was already nearly on its side.

>> we were on the lifeboat and looked back and saw the first row of windows under water and people screaming that couldn't get on a lifeboat.

>> reporter: other concerns surround the captain, arrested and questioned under suspicion of manslaughter and abandoning ship. he says they were about a thousand feet from shore and shouldn't have hit anything. but late today, the ship's owner costa cruises said, quote, there may have been significant human error on the part of captain francesco schettino which resulted in the grave consequences. and added, the route of the vessel appears to have been too close to shore and in handling the emergency, the captain appears to have not followed standard costa procedures. but the 160 foot gash in its side, many decided simply to jump into the cold, dark water .

>> i was virtually a scene from the "titanic." it felt like we were doing the actual scene. it was surreal.

>> reporter: the press here calls it the italian "titanic," a nightmare,g a dream cruise on a placid sea. the u.s. embassy says there were 120 americans on board that ship and they're looking for information on the two that remain unaccounted for. lester?