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Asia-Pacific
Cruise ship adrift in South China Sea
Philippine coast guards en route to rescue 1,000 people aboard Azamara Quest, which lost power after engine room fire.
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2012 04:23
The fire gutted one of the ship's engine rooms, according to a coast guard spokesman [Azamara Cruise Clubs]

An award-winning cruise ship carrying more than 1,000 people is adrift in the South China Sea off the island of Borneo following an onboard fire that disabled the vessel's engines.

The fire on the Azamara Quest began on Friday, a day after the ship left the Philippine capital Manila for Sandakan, Malaysia.

Philippine coast guard vessels were expected to reach the ship, which has 590 passengers and 411 crew members aboard, later on Saturday.

Lieutenant-Commander Algier Ricafrente, a coast guard spokesman, said the blaze had been put out and that no passengers were injured. The fire, he said, was in one of the ship's engine rooms.

Five crew members suffered smoke inhalation, including one who was seriously injured and needed hospital care, said Ricafrente.

The ship's owners, Azamara Club Cruises, said in a statement that the vessel was running on emergency power in "calm seas" near Indonesia's Borneo Island.

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

"While the ship does not have propulsion capabilities at this time, it is in the process of being repaired," it said.

Azamara Club Cruises is part of Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited, which has been dogged by accidents this year that have undermined its operations.

Best for 'shore excursions'

The Azamara Quest , which was named best small cruise ship for shore excursions at the 2011 Cruise Critic Awards, was about 139km (75 nautical miles) southwest of the Philippines' Tubbataha Reef when the coast guard received the reports of the fire early on Saturday from a local ferry and a towage company in Manila.

There was no direct contact with the ship's crew, Ricafrente said, adding that the coast guard would investigate why Philippine authorities did not receive any distress call during the fire.

The company said the rest of the ship's voyage would be cancelled. The vessel left Hong Kong on Monday for what was supposed to be a 17-day cruise.

The ship was scheduled to make port calls in Manila and Sandakan, as well as several stops in Indonesia, before arriving in Singapore on April 12.

Source:
Agencies
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