Sun, Apr 01, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Cruise liner adrift south of Philippines after fire


The Azamara Quest cruise ship arrives at Keelung Port in northern Taiwan in this March 28, 2010 file photograph.

Photo: Reuters

A fire in the engine room crippled a luxury cruise liner with 1,000 people aboard, leaving it adrift far from shore in waters south of the Philippines, officials said yesterday.

Five crew members were injured before the fire was put out, one of them seriously in need of hospital care. No one among the 590 passengers was hurt, the ship’s company said, and the ship’s captain reported that the situation was under control.

A tugboat and Philippine navy and coast guard vessels were headed to the stricken Azamara Quest as the crew tried to repair the engines. The rescue boats were expected to arrive last night, but it was unclear when the tugboat would arrive.

The stricken ship was drifting in the Sulu Sea about 130km south of the Philippines’ Tubbataha Reef, Philippine coast guard spokesman Lieutenant Commander Algier Ricafrente said.

The Sulu Sea lies between the Philippines and the island of Borneo, which is divided between Malaysia and Indonesia.

It was the latest in a series of accidents hitting luxury cruise liners since January, when the Costa Concordia capsized off the coast of Italy, killing 32 people.

The Azamara Quest left Hong Kong on Monday for what was supposed to be a 17-day Southeast Asian cruise. The ship made a port call in Manila and left for Sandakan, Malaysia, on Thursday. It was scheduled to make several stops in Indonesia, before arriving in Singapore on April 12.

The cruise ship was at sea when the fire broke out on Friday night. The flames engulfed one of the ship’s engine rooms, but were quickly extinguished.

Ricafrente said that the ship was in contact via e-mail.

The ship’s captain, Leif Karlsson, e-mailed the coast guard, saying that assistance was no longer necessary as a tugboat was on its way, he said.

The coast guard recalled one of its rescue vessels and a patrol craft, but another was still heading to the ship along with a navy boat, Ricafrente said, “because we want to ensure the safety of the passengers.”

There was no information about the passengers’ and crew’s nationalities, but British media said they included Britons and Americans.

Ricafrente said that no distress call was received and there would be an investigation.

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