- Associated Press - Saturday, March 31, 2012

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine coast guard says a cruise ship with 1,000 people on board that was disabled by a fire in waters in the southern Philippines has been repaired and is sailing toward Malaysia.

Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Algier Ricafrente says the Azamara Quest’s power and propulsion have been restored. It began moving slowly toward Sandakan late Saturday.

The spokesman says a coast guard vessel is approaching the ship.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — 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 Saturday.

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 in the evening, but it was unclear when the tugboat would arrive.

The stricken ship was drifting in the Sulu Sea about 130 kilometers (70 nautical miles) south of the Philippines’ Tubbataha Reef, Philippine coast guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. 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 has 411 crew members. Operator Azamara Club Cruises is part of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

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

The cruise ship left Manila on Thursday and was at sea when the fire broke out Friday night. The flames engulfed one of the ship’s engine rooms but were quickly extinguished, Azamara Club Cruises said in a statement. Five crew suffered smoke inhalation, including one who was seriously injured and needed hospital care.

Ricafrente said that the ship was in contact via email. The ship’s captain, Leif Karlsson, emailed the coast guard, saying that assistance was no longer necessary as a tugboat was on its way, he said.

“The situation (is) under control and we are in the (process) to restore the power and propulsion to continue our voyage to Sandakan” in Malaysia, Karlsson said in one of several emails seen by The Associated Press.

The ship’s senior physician, Oliver Gilles, said that the crew member who was in serious condition suffered from “prolonged heat and smoke exposure” but no burns and was “unstable”.

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.” He said the vessels were expected to reach the ship around 8 p.m. (2000 GMT).

There were no information about the nationalities of the passengers and crew, but British media said they included Britons and Americans.

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

The cruise company’s statement said the ship was running on emergency power in “calm seas” around Indonesia’s portion of Borneo island.

Engineers have restored power to one of the ship’s engines to re-establish air conditioning, running water, plumbing, refrigeration and food preparation, the company said.

The company said the rest of the ship’s voyage would be canceled.

A month after 32 people died when the Costa Concordia ran aground and capsized off the western coast of Italy, a fire on the Costra Allegra left that ship without power and adrift in waters known to be prowled by pirates in the Indian Ocean for three days.

Both Costa ships are part of Costa Crociere, SpA, a subsidiary of Carnival Corp., the world’s largest cruise operator.


Online: https://www.azamaraclubcruises.com/about-azamara/travel-alerts



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