Passengers Leave Disabled Cruise Ship in Seychelles

Posted March 1st, 2012 at 8:10 am (UTC-5)
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Passengers from a disabled Italian cruise ship are finally on dry land after it docked at a port in the Seychelles islands Thursday.

The Red Cross was set up to greet the more than 1,000 people on board the Costa Allegra who endured sweltering heat without air conditioning, lights or communication.

The ship was drifting for three days in the Indian Ocean, before being towed to land by a French fishing boat.

Passengers said Thursday that they were prepared to abandon ship and were taken to lifeboats just after a fire broke out on Monday.

But eventually the fire in the engine room was brought under control, and the passengers remained on the ship, which had lost power.

Members of the Italian navy were on board the ship to protect it from pirate attacks. Somali pirates have carried out a series of attacks in the region where the vessel became stranded.

Officials in Seychelles said planes were prepared to fly the passengers and crew back to Rome. However, many are opting to accept the Costa cruiseline's proposal to continue their vacation in the islands at “high quality hotels.”

No one was injured in the ship's engine room fire and the cause has yet to be determined.

The vessel is operated by the same company that operated the Costa Concordia, which capsized last month after hitting rocks off the coast of Italy. More than 4,200 passengers were on board, and at least 25 people died in that accident.