Fire-stricken cruise ship arrives safely at Sandakan (Update)

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 01 Apr 2012

SANDAKAN: A luxury cruise ship stranded at sea for 24 hours because of a fire has safely reached a Malaysian port.

The Azamara Quest was adrift off the southern Philippines for 24 hours with 1,000 people aboard after flames engulfed one of its engine rooms Friday night.

It restored propulsion the next night and reached the harbor of Sandakan city in Malaysia's eastern state of Sabah on Borneo island late Sunday.

Police and buses were waiting at the port to take the passengers to a hotel.

Five crew members suffered smoke inhalation, including one who was seriously injured.

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. - AP

Earlier report By MUGUNTAN VANAR

KOTA KINABALU: A luxury cruise ship Azamara Quest, with about 1,000 passengers and crew on board, is heading slowly to Sandakan Sunday after fire knocked out its engines and injured about five crew members on Friday.

The ship, has entered Malaysian waters and is expected to reach Sandakan port at about 8.30pm Sunday.

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency's patrol boat is excorting the 11-deck cruise ship with 590 passengers, mostly American and European, and 411 crew, said MMEA Regional Enforcement chief for Sabah and Labuan First Admiral M. Karunanithi when confirming the vessel was heading to Sandakan.

On reports that five crew members were suffering from smoke inhalation during the fire, he said they were informed that there was no need to airlift the sick crew as their conditions were not so serious.

He said the cruise company had appointed a local agent to facilitate the transfer of the passengers and repairs for the ship.

Philippine Coast Guard commandant Vice Admiral Edmund Tan said the Azamara Quest caught fire at 8.19 pm on Friday, some 75 nautical miles south of Tubbataha Reef, Palawan.

The fire was reportedly put out about 11 a.m. Saturday and one engine was repaired, allowing it to make it to Sandakan.

The ship's operator and owner, Azamara Club Cruises, in a statement posted on its website, said the fire that broke out in the engine room was "quickly extinguished."

However, the ship had to run on generator power while the engine was being repaired.

"There were no injuries of guests reported and the atmosphere aboard is calm. In an abundance of caution, the captain initially mustered all guests to their assembly stations," the company said.

The ship, which was on a 17-night cruise, had come from Hong Kong to Manila and left Manila on March 28 on its way to Sandakan.

It was supposed to make port calls at Sulawesi, Bali and Komodo in Indonesia before concluding the voyage in Singapore on April 12.

The company said in its online update; "The damage caused by the fire will require us to cancel the rest of Azamara Quest's voyage once the ship arrives in Sandakan and they have set up set up hotlines so that relatives of guests could call their loved ones.”

Larry Pimentel, president and chief executive officer Azamara Club Cruises is a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., a Norwegian-American firm based in Miami, was set to fly to Sandakan to meet with the passengers personally on Monday.

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