Another setback for Costa Cruises as an engine room fire sets on older ship adrift at sea near Madagascar.
|The Costa Allegra: 20 years old and 1000 passengers in 399 cabins|
Costa Allegra Adrift in Indian Ocean
The ship is basically dead in the water, although it is not in any danger of sinking. The ship has 636 passengers and 413 crew members on board who were directed to assemble at their muster stations, but the blaze was put out by the sprinkler system and the passengers are now safe, although they are severely inconvenienced.
The first reports said the ship had been spotted by an airplane and that two tugoats were on the way, but a French fishing vessel arrived first and is apparently capable of towing the vessel (a mere 28,000-tons). Guests are safe onboard and were expected to arrive in a Desroches, a Seychelles resort island, but the destination has been changed the Mahe, the main island in the Seychelles within roughly 28 hours, or sometime on Thursday. This is the nearest port where passengers can disembark and have a flight home.
The scene is somewhat similar to the Carnival Splendor fire near the coast of Mexico in 2010 which left the ship dead in the water for 72 hours. The ship was towed back to San Diego by Mexican tugboats.
What is different about this situation, however, is that the area where the 20-year-old, 28,000 ton Allegra is now sitting, just south of Somalia, is renowned as pirate-infested waters. Costa says it is working with the regional coast guard on the effort to resolve the situation. At first is not yet clear whether the ship would be towed, evacuated or whether the crew onboard will be able to be able to re-start the ship somehow. But now the towing process has begun and it is said the ship is completely dark except for some lights in control rooms. Costa officials said it was more likelt that passengers would sleep on deck.
The Costa Allegra left Port Louis in Mauritius last week and was scheduled to sail past Somalia, into the Red Sea, stop in Egypt and cross the Suez Canal before ending the cruise in Savona, Italy, where it was due to arrive on March 17. MOst of the people onboard are Italian, French and German with only about eight Americans.
The ship was 20 miles from a tiny island known as Alphonse Island when the fire broke out.