herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Irish tripper on board in new Costa cruise scare

AN IRISH holidaymaker is among over 1,000 people stranded on board a sister ship of the ill-fated Costa Concordia.

Desperate efforts were being made today to rescue the passengers from the cruise ship which has been drifting in the Indian Ocean.

The Costa Allegra encountered difficulties after a fire in the engine room left it without power yesterday morning.

While no one was hurt and fire crews contained the blaze, the ship issued a mayday call in the afternoon noting that the ship had started drifting and was near Alphonse Island, more than 200 miles (370km) southwest of the Seychelles.

A French ocean fishing vessel, the Travignon, reached the Costa Allegra around midnight and started towing the 188 metre long ship this morning.

The 636 passengers and 413 crew members were served a cold breakfast after supplies were dropped in by a helicopter.

After reaching Desroches Island, the passengers were expected to be taken to a hotel where they would await transfer to the main Seychelles island of Mahe.

Two tugboats will then take over from the Travignon later today and tow the ship to Victoria, the capital of the Seychelles.

The Costa Allegra, a giant Italian cruise ship, left the coast of Madagascar on Saturday.

Passengers onboard, including four children are from 25 different countries, with the largest contingents being from France and Italy and Austria.

There are also 38 Germans, 31 Britons, 13 Canadians, and eight Americans on board.

Nine Italian marines were also travelling on the 28,000 ton ship to protect it from potential attacks from pirates.

Last year, there were 151 attacks by predominantly Somalian pirates on ships in the Indian Ocean.

Costa Allegra is from the same fleet as the Costa Concordia, which capsized off the Italian coast six weeks ago, killing 32.

The captain of the 114,500 ton cruise ship -- Captain Francesco Schettino (inset left) -- is under house arrest as he could face charges of multiple manslaughter.

He allegedly caused the shipwreck by changing the ship's course before it crashed off the Italian island of Giglio on January 13.

hnews@herald.ie

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