No electricity, no air conditioning in tropical heat: After a fire on board, the comfortable cruise on the "Costa Allegra" becomes a horror trip for the passengers. The ship is unable to manoeuvre and is now being towed away.
The dream voyage in the Indian Ocean has turned into a towing trip without electricity through pirate territory. Helicopters are supplying the cruise ship "Costa Allegra" with aid after its accident in the Pacific Ocean, as a German representative of the shipping company Costa Crociere said on Tuesday evening. The ship is now being towed to the Seychelles, where it is to arrive on Thursday morning with a two-day delay.
The accident of the "Costa Allegra" hits again a cruise ship of the Italian shipping company, which also owns the unfortunate ship "Costa Concordia". The fire in the engine room of the "Costa Allegra" did not injure anybody on the way from Madagascar to the Seychelles on Monday, but the more than 1000 people were sailing through the tropics without air conditioning and functioning power supply.
Their 26-day sea voyage was supposed to lead from Mauritius via Madagascar through the Suez Canal to Savona in Italy, and now ends in the Seychelles, from where the holidaymakers are to fly home immediately.
A French deep-sea fishing trawler and two tugboats are to tow the manoeuvrable "Costa Allegra" to the Seychelles' main island of Mahé in the Indian Ocean. The tugboats have reached the Italian ship and can now take it there more quickly, according to the Genoese shipping company Costa Crociere. 636 of the 1049 people on board are passengers from 25 countries, including 38 Germans, 90 Swiss, 97 Austrians, 127 French and 135 Italians.
Sven Dreeßen, Professor of Maritime Transport Safety: "If you take two weeks each as the duration of a cruise, a holidaymaker would have to make 164,000 trips to die statistically speaking in a shipping accident.
According to a report by the Austrian news agency APA, the public prosecutor's office of the Italian port city of Genoa has meanwhile initiated investigations to clarify the causes of the fire in the engine room, and the captain of the "Costa Allegra" had ruled out that the fire could have been deliberately started.
The Italian consumer protection association Codacons now wants the shipping company to compensate the passengers, saying that the passengers had suffered considerable damage due to the fire caused by fear and stress.
Originally, the "Costa Allegra", which was unfit to sail after a fire in the engine room, was to be towed to the nearby island of Desroches, but an inspection showed that the safety conditions there for mooring and disembarkation were not met. Nor were the accommodations on the island sufficient, the shipping company explained.
Meanwhile, people on board are being taken care of: helicopters bring food, flashlights and other necessary equipment for the "Costa Allegra". the weather conditions are good. "At night it will be best for passengers to stay outside on deck", Giorgio Moretti from the shipping company advised the passengers, because off the Seychelles there is up to 30 degrees heat.
Relatives cannot find out exactly where the "Allegra" is at present: the web camera, which continuously transmits pictures from on board on the shipping company's website, has failed, as has the transmission of the route. The "Costa Allegra" had requested assistance on Monday during the voyage from Madagascar to the Seychelles.
"Everyone is fine, nothing happened", said the spokesman for the German subsidiary Costa Cruises, Werner Claasen, on Tuesday. All family members of the passengers had been informed. According to Claasen, the fire affected the part of the engine that produces the electricity for the ship. The fire was quickly brought under control. "The fire did not spread to any other part of the ship, there were neither injured nor victims", it was said. The on-board equipment was in emergency operation. The cause of the fire was initially unclear.
The shipping company has been sailing in difficult waters for about six weeks:
In the night of 14 January, the ship "Costa Concordia" ran onto a rock off the Tuscan coast. The cause was apparently a manoeuvring error by the captain. 32 people probably died in the disaster. The salvage work is still going on - and divers keep finding bodies in the wreck.
The "Costa Allegra", which was converted in 1992 and is therefore older, used to be a container ship. At 28 600 tonnes, it is much smaller than the "Concordia", which was damaged off the island of Giglio.
The share price of Costa's parent company Carnival was down just under one percent in pre-listing New York trading on Tuesday. The day before, the misfortune had startled investors and the share price had fallen by 2 percent in the meantime. However, the share of the world's largest cruise line had recovered by the evening and had gone out of trading almost unchanged.