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Azamara cruise ship sails for Malaysia after fire repairs

  • 3-31-2012

A cruise ship disabled by a fire has been repaired and is sailing slowly from Philippines waters to Malaysia, the ship's operator says.

Fire broke out on the Azamara Quest on Friday, a day after it left Manila for Malaysia, with 1,001 people on board.

Operator Azamara Club Cruises said five crew suffered smoke inhalation but that no passengers were injured.

The ship was now travelling at a speed of three to six knots and should reach Sandakan, Malaysia,in two days.

"The crew members are being treated in our medical facility. The condition of the one crew member that was more severely injured has improved, but is still serious."

The ship is owned by the world's second largest cruise firm, Royal Caribbean.

Azamara Club Cruises said the blaze - in one of the ship's engine rooms - had been immediately extinguished.

"The damage caused by the fire will require us to cancel the rest of Azamara Quest's voyage once the ship arrives in Sandakan," it said.

A coastguard spokesman, Lt Cdr Algier Ricafrente, said a coastguard vessel was approaching the Azamara Quest. He said the ship's captain had earlier emailed to say everything was "under control" and that it did not require assistance.

But Cdr Ricafrente said the coastguard would provide assistance while the ship was "inside our area of responsibility". Another spokesman said a Philippine Navy ship would escort the ship until it crossed into Malaysian waters.

Cdr Ricafrente earlier said the cruise ship was carrying 590 passengers and 411 crew.

He said the coastguard had been alerted to the fire by a Manila-based ferry and towage company and that it would be investigating why the Azamara Quest's crew had not issued a distress call.

The ship had been 139km (75 nautical miles) south-west of the Philippines' Tubbataha Reef when the coastguard heard of the incident.

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Up to 60 Britons are reported to be on board the Azamara Quest.

One passenger, Deborah Garnett from Yorkshire, said dinner was about to be served when the fire broke out.

"One of the engineers ran up covered in oil, running through the dining room and smoke filled the dining room and everybody was evacuated and given life jackets," she said.

"The captain was dining and he ran after the engineer and went onto the bridge. Obviously, it was a bit of a panic and people were worried because they thought they were going to have to lower the lifeboats."

Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said it was sending a team to the region to meet the ship and see what consular assistance it could provide.

It said anyone with concerns about those on board could find further information on the Azamara Quest Facebook page, website, or by calling the cruise operator's hot line on 001-408-916-9001.

Earlier this year, 32 people died when a cruise ship owned by another firm - Carnival - ran aground off the coast of Italy. A month later another Carnival ship lost power for three days in the Indian Ocean.

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2012 BBC


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