Nearly 4,500 stranded on cruise ship off Mexico

Nearly 4,500 passengers and crew on a seven-day cruise to the Mexican Riviera were stranded off the coast of Mexico after an engine room fire cut power to their ship.

Last Updated: Nov 09, 2010, 23:43 PM IST

San Diego: Nearly 4,500 passengers and crew
on a seven-day cruise to the Mexican Riviera were stranded off
the coast of Mexico after an engine room fire cut power to
their ship. Tugboats and an aircraft carrier were headed out
to help on Tuesday.

The Carnival Splendor was 200 miles (320 kilometres)
south of San Diego when the fire started early yesterday
morning, according to a statement from Miami-based Carnival
Cruise Lines.

It was extinguished with no injuries to the 3,299
passengers and 1,167 crew members.

The 952-foot (290-metre) ship has auxiliary power, but
air conditioning, hot food service, hot water and telephones
were knocked out. Toilets and cold running water were restored
last night, the cruise line said.

Passengers were first asked to move from their cabins
to the ship`s upper deck, but eventually allowed to go back to
their rooms. Bottled water and cold food were being provided,
the cruise line said.

The vessel was drifting about 55 miles (90 kilometres)
off of the northern Baja California coast. Tugs were expected
to reach it at midday to tow it to Ensenada. Passengers will
then be bused back to the United States.

The ship was in contact with the US Coast Guard, which
deployed aircraft and ships.

Coast Guard Lt Khris Johns, who was on a cutter at the
scene, told NBC television that it will take two tugs about 24
hours to bring the ship to port.

"But right now with the current conditions and what we
saw onboard the cruise ship, that`s about the safest way to
proceed as it stands now," he said.

The US Navy was also diverting the aircraft carrier
USS Ronald Reagan from training manoeuvres to help. A plane
was to drop off 35 pallets of supplies on the carrier that
will be delivered to the cruise liner by helicopter, the Navy
said in a statement.

The voyage, which began in Long Beach, was cancelled
and guests will get refunds, reimbursement for transportation
costs and a free future cruise of equal value, the cruise line
said.

PTI