Sunday, May 27, 2018

Fire leaves cruise ship adrift in Indian Ocean

NAIROBI, Kenya — An Italian cruise liner carrying more than 1,000 people was adrift without power in the pirate-infested Indian Ocean on Monday after a fire erupted in its generator room. The blaze, which was extinguished, caused no injuries, officials said.

Two tugboats from the island nation of Seychelles were steaming toward the drifting Costa Allegra, which had 636 passengers and 413 crew members on board, but they were not expected to arrive until this afternoon at the earliest.

Italian coast guard officials said a large French fishing boat could be the first vessel to reach the stricken cruise liner.

Monday's fire on the Costa Allegra raised fears, since it occurred only six weeks after one of its sister ships, the Costa Concordia, hit a reef and capsized off Italy, killing 25 people and leaving seven missing and presumed dead. Both ships are operated by Costa Crociere SpA, which is owned by the Florida-based Carnival Corp.

However, company officials rushed to play down concerns.

The Costa Allegra is adrift "and being pushed by the current. It is stable and upright," Giorgio Moretti, the director of nautical operations for Costa Crociere, told reporters in a conference call late Monday from company headquarters in Genoa, Italy.

No one was injured in the fire in the generator room and the cause of the fire was under investigation, Moretti said. The fire knocked out power to the ship's engines as well as to its lights and air conditioning.

Italian Coast Guard officials said emergency generators were keeping the ship's control room illuminated and communications equipment such as radios running.

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