Crippled Italian ship faces long tow to Seychelles
AUSTRALIA: A crippled Italian cruise ship from the same fleet as the
doomed Costa Concordia was being towed through pirate-infested waters in
the Indian Ocean to the Seychelles for expected arrival by Thursday.
The more than 1,000 people on board the Costa Allegra spent a second
night on the ship's decks in sweltering temperatures after a fire on
Monday took out the air-conditioning system along with the entire power
supply and the engines. A French tuna fishing boat, the Trevignon,
responded to the Costa Allegra's mayday call and was towing the boat
solo, crawling along at a speed of around six knots (11 kilometres per
hour, seven miles per hour) through calm seas.
A helicopter on Tuesday brought food, satellite phones and VHF radios
to the ship and cruise operator Costa Crociere said in a statement that
a second helicopter run on Wednesday would deliver fresh bread and
Two Seychelles customs officials were also due to board the vessel on
Wednesday, along with eight members of Costa Crociere's "Care Team", it
Two Seychelles tugboats were also on hand to provide support if
The company said it expected the Costa Allegra to arrive in Mahe, the
main island of the Seychelles archipelago, in the early morning of
Thursday. It also said a Seychelles coast guard vessel brought a small
emergency power generator to the Costa Allegra on Tuesday to help
restore some basic services.
An Indian naval aircraft flying overhead on Tuesday took photographs
showing people crowded around one of the cruise ship's swimming pools.
Relatives of the people on board said they were anxious to speak to
their loved ones, who are still far from mobile network coverage. "I'll
only be calm when I can speak to her," Luigi Tortorella, brother of
Angela Tortorella who works as an animator on the ship, told ANSA news
"The news that Costa gave my parents today was reassuring but to
speak on the phone and hear her would be something else entirely."
Meanwhile British mother Jayne Thomas spoke of her shock at learning
that her daughter was on board the stricken ship, just weeks after her
son survived the sinking of the Costa Concordia off Italian shores.
Thomas said her son and daughter both worked as dancers on the Costa
"I thought it was a one-off," Thomas told BBC television, adding: "I
really didn't think disaster could strike twice." The fire broke out
near the ship's generators in the engine room as the Costa Allegra was
making its way from Madagascar, which it departed on Saturday, to the
Seychelles, where it had been due to arrive on Tuesday. Emergency crews
on board extinguished the fire after a few hours and no one was injured,
but the liner was left powerless and adrift.
In the Seychelles, presidential spokeswoman Srdjana Janosevic said
preparations were being made for accommodation and international
"Expected time of arrival is between late evening of Wednesday and
early morning of Thursday, depending on the sea conditions," she said.
The Costa Allegra was being towed earlier on Tuesday to the tiny remote
island of Desroches, also part of the Seychelles, but the course was
changed when officials deemed the facilities there inadequate for large
Costa Crociere said there were 636 passengers and 413 crew members
from 25 countries on board the ship, including nine Italian Marines
hired to guard against possible pirate attacks. It said everyone was in
good health. AFP