Eight people are dead and more than 30 injured as the result of a cruise ship with more than 4,000 aboard running aground near Italy after hitting a reef near the Isola del Giglio on Friday night, Italian media reported.

Several people were also missing after jumping overboard in panic as the ship began to tilt, the Sydney Morning Herald quoted the Italian newspaper Messaggero as reporting.

One of the victims was a man in his 70s who died of a heart attack caused by the shock to his system when he jumped into the icy waters, the report said.

Passengers felt a large thud as the lights went of suddenly in the ship. Later, they were told to wear life jackets.

"We were having supper when the lights suddenly went out; we heard a boom and a groaning noise, and all the cutlery fell on the floor," the ANSA news agency based in Italy quoted a passenger as saying.

"It was like a scene from the Titanic," ANSA quoted passenger Mara Parmegiani as saying.

The Costa Concordia was on a trip around the Mediterranean Sea when the tragedy happened. There were elderly people, pregnant women, and children among the passengers.

Although most of the passengers are already evacuated, 200 to 300 people are still believed to be on board.

"The ship was on a cruise in the Mediterranean, leaving from Savona with planned stops in Civitavecchia, Palermo, Cagliari, Palma, Barcelona, and Marseille," Costa Crociera SpA, owner of the ship, said in a statement.

"There were around 1,000 Italian passengers on board, as well as 500 Germans and around 150 French people," it added.

The Costa Concordia has 58 suites, five restaurants, 13 bars, five Jacuzzis, and four swimming pools. At the time of the accident, it was on a seven-night West Mediterranean cruise.

Also read - Eight Killed as Cruise Ship Runs Aground Off Italian Coast