Passengers describe scenes of terror as a ferry hits the pier near Rome after being battered by a storm.
CIVITAVECCHIA, ITALY (FEBRUARY 4, 2012) (SKY ITALIA -Images broadcast on Italian television on Saturday (February 4) showed a large gash on the side of a ferry that ran aground late the night before.
Some 300 people had to be rescued when the "Sharden" passenger ferry ran aground in Civitavecchia, near Rome, late on Friday (February 3).
The ferry was headed to the city of Olbia in Sardinia and was said to have been battered by a storm and hit the pier.
Passengers said they were transferred to another vessel at around 4 a.m. (0300gmt) and described feeling frightened and cold.
"We were transferred from the ship to another, in the cold of the night, we were freezing, they made us get off the ship in conditions of a clear emergency, over planks, with the sea on our left, with the snow and the ice, without life jackets because there weren't any, not even in the cabins, among other things. I'm speechless," one passenger told Italian television.
A shaken female passenger said there had been no information or life jackets available following the incident.
"At 11 p.m. after we had dinner we went to the bar to have a drink and we were chatting and at some point there was a strong jolt and everything shook. My boyfriend went out and he told me he saw that there was a hole. It was very frightening and the crew members were all incompetent because they couldn't even talk, no one was able to tell us what had happened. He (boyfriend) said to me that there was water, water, and I asked him "What do we do?", we weren't even given life jackets, nothing. We didn't know what to do."
There were no reports of injuries.
The incident comes less than a month after the Costa Concordia cruise liner ran aground and keeled over off the Tuscan coast.
The Concordia, carrying more than 4,200 passengers and crew, was holed by a rock after its captain steered to within 150 metres of the tiny island. A total of 17 bodies have been recovered since the accident on January 13 and 15 people remain missing.
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