A luxury cruise ship Costa Concordia leans on its side after running aground the tiny Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012. A luxury cruise ship ran aground off the coast of Tuscany, sending water pouring in through a 160-foot (50-meter) gash in the hull and forcing the evacuation of some 4,200 people from the listing vessel early Saturday, the Italian coast guard said. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Two men from Austin expressed shock, outrage and gratitude after being rescued from the Costa Concordia cruise ship, which tipped over off the coast of Italy Saturday.
Blake Miller talked with NBC's Lester Holt on the Today Show. "I honestly did not have a true understanding of, of, how bad it was until we were on the life boat and looked back and saw the first row of windows underwater and people screaming that couldn't get on a life boat, still on the boat. And that's when we realized how much it was really tilting."
Five people died in the accident, while 15 people are still unaccounted for. There were 120 Americans total on the ship that can carry more than 4000 passengers.
An Italian Coast Guard commander says the captain of the luxury cruise liner was spotted on land during the ship's evacuation. According to the Italian navigation code, a captain who abandons a ship in danger can face up to 12 years in prison.
Steve Garcia was another passenger from Austin. He said there was much confusion among the crew.
"The only thing that worked for us was the passengers. It's amazing that none of us spoke the same language, but we knew how to take car of each other, but the crew couldn't figure that out." Garcia said. "We had shop keepers that opened up for us, a school opened, a church."
The two expressed gratitude to the Italian people.
"We had nuns, nuns in the school that were giving us sheets for those of us that didn't have jackets, and then there was the church as well," Miller said. "But, the people of Giglio were really beyond compare, really what I would expect from my own hometown of Austin, Texas. Um, it was very comforting to have them there."