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Old March 23rd, 2006, 06:56 PM
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First person account from MSNBC.
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By Susan Lim
Editor
MSNBC
Updated: 4:36 p.m. ET March 23, 2006
MSNBC.com business editor and producer Susan Lim and her husband, Caleb, were aboard the Star Princess when the fire erupted. Here is her description of what she saw:



Susan Lim
Editor

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I think I'm still shocked at what happened last night. Caleb and I were actually awake watching a movie when some messages to the crew were broadcast around 3 a.m. ET, followed by the emergency call for everyone to get their lifejackets and head to their designated muster stations.

When we headed down to the muster station we could smell smoke. As we gathered, the crew started to tell everyone to calm down and sit down until further directions.

Over the next three hours, we got messages over the speaker system from the captain telling us what was happening. They spent awhile putting out the fire and trying to contain it. During that time, they had all the lifeboats out and ready in case we had to use them. It got hot in the gathering areas. Once the fire was out and contained, they began asking if anyone needed to get medicine from their cabins. The elderly people looked tired and confused.

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By late Thursday afternoon, the captain announced the cruise had been terminated, and said all the passengers would be rerouted. We don’t know yet how we are going to get to Jamaica or back to Ft. Lauderdale for our flight home. The captain took the time to thank the crew members for their efforts in the fighting the fire and keeping everyone together. Immediately, there was applause from passengers.


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The latest developements on the cruise ship fire



The crew members maintained a very positive tone throughout last night to try to keep everyone's spirits up. I took a stroll around our gathering area, and people looked very miserable. People were sleeping on the ground in their PJs, robes, etc.

Our friends had a cabin that was near the fire. When they opened their door to leave, black smoke came out and they had to crouch to get to the stairs.

A little after we landed at Montego Bay, the captain gave the OK for half the passengers to head back to their rooms, but everyone on the fire side had to wait for at least two more hours. But they had prepared the dining rooms and people were able to go and eat some breakfast.

Within an hour, some people had showered and were even sunbathing on the top deck. The buffet line was up and running and people were again carrying around their beach bags, ready to hit the beach.

Later in the day, I passed a few people who had smoke marks on their arms and legs, and I saw quite a few pieces of luggage that were charred. I heard some people lost everything in the fire. The captain told us that the fire that melted locks on some of the doors. We can still smell the smoke throughout the ship


Regards,
Ben
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