flareneld's oven: Cruise ship fire leaves 4,500 stranded off Mexico coast

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Cruise ship fire leaves 4,500 stranded off Mexico coast

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Cruise ship fire leaves 4,500 stranded off Mexico coast

BBC News

Carnival Splendor (file photo, June 2008) The Carnival Splendor sailed with nearly 3,300 passengers for a cruise along the Mexican Riviera

A cruise ship which sailed from California has caught fire and is having to be towed back to shore, with 4,500 people on board but unharmed.

The Carnival Splendor was 200 miles (310km) south of San Diego, when the blaze broke out on Monday morning, said owners Carnival Cruise Lines.

US Navy helicopters are shuttling in supplies and tugboats are expected to bring the ship to the Mexican port of Ensenada by about 0300 GMT on Thursday.
Passengers will get a full refund.

From Ensenada, they will be taken by bus to the US border, some 50 miles (80km) away.
The boss of Carnival Cruise Lines admitted the conditions on board were "very challenging".

Coast Guard Capt Tom Farris agreed, saying: "Without being there - and I'm glad I'm not - I think they're probably uncomfortable."

One tugboat had reached the ship on Tuesday afternoon but a second boat had to return to Ensenada 
due to a technical problem, Mr Farris told the Associated Press (AP) news agency.

Towing is expected to begin later on Tuesday when the second tugboat eventually reaches the cruise ship.
The 952ft (290m) Carnival Splendor sailed from Long Beach, California, on Monday for a seven-day cruise of the Mexican Riviera. 


There are 3,299 passengers on board, along with 1,167 crew. Sixteen Britons are among the passengers.

The fire in the engine room cut off most power supplies. Toilets and cold running water were restored on Monday night, but air conditioning, hot food service and telephones are not working.

The ship has been drifting 55 miles (90km) off the coast of Mexico.
When the fire started, passengers were initially asked to move from their cabins to the open upper deck.

Later, they were allowed to go back to their rooms.

Bottled water and cold food items were provided, the cruise company said.

The US Navy has sent the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan to help. Its helicopters are in the process of ferrying supplies.

Monty Mathisen, of the publication Cruise industry News, referred to the fire as a freak accident.
"This stuff does not happen, I mean once in a blue moon," he told AP.

Carnival president and chief executive Gerry Cahill said in a statement: "We know this has been an extremely trying situation for our guests and we sincerely thank them for their patience.

"Conditions on board the ship are very challenging and we sincerely apologise for the discomfort and inconvenience our guests are currently enduring."

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