Stricken cruise ship arrives in Seychelles

Cruise ship with 1,000 passengers and crew aboard arrives in port under tow after three days at sea without power.

    Passengers and crew spent two nights without lights or air conditioning [AFP]

    A cruise ship that was stranded at sea without power has docked under tow in the Seychelles.

    The Costa Allegra arrived at the islands' main port of Victoria on Thursday, three days after a fire in the engine room blacked out the ship, shut down many systems and left it floating adrift overnight in the Indian Ocean.

    The 1,000 passengers and crew have spent two nights without lights or air conditioning.

    Al Jazeera's Sue Turton, reporting from Mahe in the Seychelles, said people disembarking the ship looked "fed up but in reasonably good spirits".

    Doctors were flown onto the ship a few days ago for those people who needed medical treatment and more medical help received others on shore when the ship arrived.

    "From what we understand there are some people that are sick. They came off first and are being treated by the Red Cross," said Turton.

    The Seychelles Red Cross had set up several tents to assist any passengers needing help, and the British, French and Italian embassies were at the port to assist their citizens.

    Earlier Turton reported that some people on board the ship had suffered from dehydration and sunstroke.

    "The captain was telling the home affairs minister that the conditions on board the ship were dreadful. He talked about how they didn't have running water, so people haven't been able to have a shower for the last few days," Turton reported.

    Tour operators also lined up dozens of buses ready to take passengers to either the airport or a Seychelles resort. Immigration procedures have already been carried out on the boat.

    'Happy ending'

    "The focus of the operation is to get them a warm meal and a shower," said Guillaume Albert, head of Creole Travel Service. "I think the happy ending is the people coming off the boat."

    The average age of passengers was 55 years, Albert said.

    Costa Crociere SpA, the company which operates the ship, is understood to have chartered two planes to offer up to 360 passengers flights to Rome, although Turton said many passengers wanted to stay in the Seychelles where carnival begins on Friday.

    A French tuna fishing boat, the Trevignon, responded to the Costa Allegra's mayday call and towed the ship solo, crawling along at a speed of around six knots (11km per hour) through calm seas.

    A salvage convention in maritime law says that if a vessel is recovered by another vessel than it will be owed salvage fees.

    Turton said that while it was unclear if a deal had been reached between Costa and the company that owned the fishing trawler, if a fee was not forthcoming, the trawler would be able to retain possession of the liner.  

    Previous accident

    Italian coastguard and government inspectors are also on their way there. They will investigate what went wrong, a month after the sinking of the Allegra's sister ship, the Costa Concordia, near the Italian island of Giglio.

    Monday's fire aboard the 188-metre liner occurred only six weeks after the Costa Concordia accident, which left dozens dead and another seven still missing.

    The Allegra was sailing about 320km southwest of the Seychelles when the fire broke out and it sent a distress signal, the company said.

    A spokesman for Costa said the passengers included 130 each from Italy and France, 100 from Austria and 90 from Switzerland.

    The 28,597-tonne ship left northern Madagascar, off Africa's southeast coast, on Saturday and was cruising towards Victoria. Costa said the Allegra had been due in Victoria on Tuesday.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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