Monday, 27 February 2012

Cruise ship Costa Allegra adrift off Seychelles


Cruise ship Costa Allegra adrift off Seychelles

Costa Allegra (June 10, 2011 in Rhodes) The Costa Allegra has over 1,000 people on board (file photo)

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An Italian cruise ship with more than 1,000 people on board is without power in the Indian Ocean following a fire. No one has been injured.
The Costa Allegra is adrift in the dark more than 200 miles southwest of the Seychelles, near Alphonse Island.
Tug boats are on their way to the liner but will not reach it until around 1500 GMT on Tuesday.
The ship is from the same fleet as the Costa Concordia, which capsized off the Italian coast in January, killing 32.
Costa Cruises said in a statement that the fire broke out in the electric generators' room. It did not spread and there were no injuries or casualties.
Inspections of the state of the engine room are on-going, the company says.
Ship immobilised The liner has sent out a distress signal, Costa Cruises says, and all passengers and crew not involved in fighting the fire assembled at the muster stations.
There are no electric lights on board the ship as the batteries are being used to keep essential machinery going.
The Italian authorities have directed three merchant ships and two fishing vessels towards the stricken liner.
The authorities in the Seychelles say they have sent two tug boats and a coastguard ship to the scene.
The closest vessel to the ship - a French fishing boat - is likely to reach the Allegra at around 2300 GMT, ahead of the tug boats.
A plane from the Seychelles flew over the cruise ship and confirmed that there was "no danger for the people on board," according to Commander Cosimo Nicastro of the Italian coast guard.
Cmdr Nicastro told the BBC that it took the crew a few hours to extinguish the fire.
Although the ship is in the middle of the Indian Ocean, there are "no problems for the passengers".
However the ship probably needs to be towed to a Seychelles port, he said.
Seychelles map
There are 636 passengers and 413 crew on board the Costa Allegra, which left Madagascar on Saturday.
It was due to arrive in the Seychelles on Tuesday.
Further destinations on its itinerary include Alexandria and Naples in the Mediterranean.
Somali pirates are known to operate in the area where the ship is adrift, though they have never seized a cruise liner.
A facility on Costa Cruises' website allowing people to track the Allegra's position says that "data transmission is temporarily suspended".
The Costa Concordia ran aground off the Italian island of Giglio on 13 January.
The Concordia's captain, Francesco Schettino, has been accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship before all those aboard were evacuated. He denies any wrongdoing