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Disabled cruise ship docks in Seychelles port after 3 days at sea without power
VICTORIA, Seychelles (AP) ' A disabled cruise ship has docked in a Seychelles port after three days at sea without power.
Passengers lined the railings and a few began to clap as the Costa Allegra drew close to the crowded dock Thursday morning.
The Seychelles Red Cross has set up several tents to assist any passengers needing help and representatives from the American and European governments were waiting to assist.
The ship has been at sea with more than 1,000 people onboard and without electricity since a fire broke out in the generator room on Monday. There are no toilets, showers or lights.
A French fishing vessel has been towing the cruise ship to safety.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
VICTORIA, Seychelles (AP) ' A disabled cruise ship arrived in port in the island nation of the Seychelles on Thursday morning after three days at sea without power as dozens of officials flocked to the port to help distressed passengers.
The Seychelles Red Cross set up several tents to assist any passengers needing help and officials from the British High Commission and the French and Italian embassies were at the port to receive their citizens. Tour operators lined up dozens of buses ready to take passengers to either the airport or a Seychelles resort. The process was expected to take several hours and the weather is hot and humid.
The Costa Allegra has been at sea with more than 1,000 people onboard and without electricity since a fire in the generator room on Monday. There are no working toilets, showers, lights or air conditioning. The cause of the fire is unknown. A French fishing vessel has been towing the cruise ship to safety.
Travel agents flocked to the port, waiting to help passengers ashore.
"The focus of the operation is to get them a warm meal and a shower," said Guillaume Albert, head of Creole Travel Service. "I think the happy ending is the people coming off the boat."
The average age of passengers onboard the ship is 55 years, he said, and the heat and lack of hygiene could be uncomfortable for some of the older travelers.
"I know it was bad luck for these guys (from the cruise ship company) but they are doing the best they can," he said. "They have a lot of image building to do right now but I've seen a very professional team."
The fire came only six weeks after the Costa Concordia, owned by the same company, hit a reef and capsized off Italy, killing 25 people and leaving seven missing and presumed dead. No one was injured in the fire Monday.
"It happened in quite an isolated spot so it took quite a while to get back here," said British High Commissioner Matthew Forbes as he waited for the boat to dock.
A Seychelles official suggested on Wednesday that the journey may also have taken longer because the French fishing vessel towing the cruise ship had refused to give way to two faster tugs sent by the Seychelles. Although assistance to people at sea is free, assistance to ships is often paid.
The Allegra, whose Italian name means "merry," or "happy," left northern Madagascar, off Africa's southeast coast, on Saturday and was cruising toward Port Victoria when the fire erupted. The liner was carrying 413 crew members and 627 passengers, including 212 Italians, 31 Britons and eight Americans.
About 375 people are taking advantage of the company's offer of a free 15 day vacation in the Seychelles.
Tourism in the tiny island nation almost stopped completely in 2009 because of the threat of pirate attacks and the government is anxious that the incident should not further damage the Seychelles' tourist industry.
The Seychelles is a chain of white-sand resort islands that attracts celebrities and royalty. Its population is just 87,000, and it is heavily dependent on fishing and tourism.