Cruise ship Costa Allegra adrift off Seychelles

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Costa Allegra (June 10, 2011 in Rhodes)Image source, AFP
Image caption,
The Costa Allegra has over 1,000 people on board (file photo)

An Italian cruise ship with more than 1,000 people on board is without power in the Indian Ocean following a fire. No one has been injured.

The Costa Allegra is adrift in the dark more than 200 miles southwest of the Seychelles, near Alphonse Island.

A French-flagged fishing boat has reached the ship, Italian coastguards told the BBC, and tugs are en route.

The ship is from the same fleet as the Costa Concordia, which capsized off the Italian coast in January, killing 32.

Costa Cruises said in a statement that the fire broke out in a room housing electric generators. It did not spread and there were no injuries or casualties.

Inspections of the state of the engine room are on-going, the company says.

The cruise operator has stressed that the ship is steady and conditions are safe.

It says it is liaising with passengers' families via its emergency contact numbers. Families in the UK can call 020 7940 3300.

Costa Cruises later said that a French-flagged, 295ft (90m) ocean-going fishing ship would be the first to reach the ship.

Commander Cosimo Nicastro of the Italian coast guard later confirmed to the BBC that the fishing vessel had arrived, having made better time than expected.

Costa Cruises said another ship of similar size was sailing toward Costa Allegra and would be joined by two merchant ships and two tugs due to arrive on Tuesday afternoon.

Ship immobilised

The liner sent out a distress signal, Costa Cruises said, and all passengers and crew not involved in fighting the fire assembled at the muster stations.

Most electric lights on board the ship are off as the batteries are being used to keep essential machinery going.

A spokesman for Costa Cruises said the situation on board was calm and the ship was stable.

Media caption,

Commander Cosimo Nicastro: "There are no problems for the passengers or crew members on board"

Captain Giorgio Moretti said a helicopter would bring fresh food to the liner on Tuesday morning, as it is without cooking facilities.

Captain Moretti said it had not been decided whether to try to transfer the passengers to other ships, or leave them on board until it is tugged to shore.

A plane from the Seychelles flew over the cruise ship and confirmed that there was "no danger for the people on board," according to Cmdr Nicastro.

He told the BBC that it took the crew a few hours to extinguish the fire.

Image source, bbc

There are 636 passengers and 413 crew on board the Costa Allegra, which left Madagascar on Saturday.

It was due to arrive in the Seychelles on Tuesday.

Further destinations on its itinerary include Alexandria and Naples in the Mediterranean.

Somali pirates are known to operate in the area where the ship is adrift, though they have never seized a cruise liner.

Nine members of the Italian navy's anti-pirate unit are on board the ship as a precaution.

A facility on Costa Cruises' website allowing people to track the Allegra's position says that "data transmission is temporarily suspended".

The company says the Allegra received its regularly scheduled maintenance in dry dock in October 2011.

The Costa Concordia ran aground off the Italian island of Giglio on 13 January.

The Concordia's captain, Francesco Schettino, has been accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship before all those aboard were evacuated. He denies any wrongdoing