At least three dead as liner grounds off Tuscan coast

A cruise ship carrying more than 4,000 people ran aground overnight off the western coast of Italy, killing several aboard.

The luxury liner Costa Concordia hit a sandbar in darkness near the island of Giglio, tearing a 49m (160ft) gash in her hull.

The 290m (950ft) ship listed to 20 degrees, making launching her lifeboats difficult. Many aboard jumped into the sea from the lower side to escape.

Three people are confirmed dead, with another 30 injured, at least two of them very seriously.

It is not yet known whether the fatalities were from amongst the more than 3,200 passengers or the 1,000-plus crew members.

While the greatest proportion of those aboard were Italian, there were thought to have been dozens of Britons amongst the passengers.

The ship was only half a day in to a planned eight-day cruise to Marseille out of Civitavecchia, Port of Rome.

The crash happened while many were taking their dinner last night. The standard evacuation drill had not yet taken place, being planned for this afternoon.

While most of those aboard have now been transferred to the mainland, the search continues for possible survivors.

Video: BBC