Burson-Marsteller’s London office is providing crisis PR support to Costa Cruises, the unit of cruise ship giant Carnival that saw one of its large luxury ships run aground off Italy on Jan. 14.

NY Times
New York Times front page on Jan. 15 shows the Costa Concordia aground off Italy.
Images of the Costa Concordia tipped on its side in shallow water have run consistently in global media since the accident. Six people have been confirmed dead and more than a dozen are missing, including a Minnesota couple, of 4,234 passengers aboard.

Costa Cruises posted a series of statements following the disaster saying Jan. 15 “there may have been significant human error on the part of the ship’s master, Captain Francesco Schettino, which resulted in these grave consequences,” noting the vessel appeared to have been too close to shore.

Matt Carter head’s Burson- Marsteller’s U.K. operation. Clarence Mitchell, a former BBC journalist and agency and government PR hand, joined the firm in September as managing director.

Carnival said the disaster could mean an $85M-95M hit on earnings as the ship is expected to be out of service for 2012, if not longer.

Costa Cruises president Gianni Onarato in the late afternoon Jan. 14 expressed “our deep sorrow for this terrible tragedy that devastates us,” saying his statement came later in the day because he had been on the nearly Island of Giglio “close to the rescue operations.”