ROME (AP) – A fire broke out Monday in the generator room of an Italian cruise ship, leaving it adrift off the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, but causing no casualties, officials said.
The accident aboard the Costa Allegra occurred about six weeks after the Concordia, another Italian cruise ship owned by the same company, capsized off Italy, killing 25 people and leaving seven missing and presumed dead.
Asked about Monday's Costa Allegra accident, Italian Coast Guard Cmdr. Cosimo Nicastro told SkyTG24 TV that the ship's captain told Italian authorities the blaze was quickly extinguished.
"The passengers are fine," Nicastro said. But the fire left the cruise liner "without propulsion," meaning the ship, with 636 passengers and 413 crew members aboard, was adrift in the sea because the engines weren't working, he said.
But "the fire danger is over," Nicastro said.
Costa Crociere SpA, which is based in Genoa, Italy, said in a statement that its ship was about 20 miles from Alphonse Island, one of the atolls in the Seychelles, a nation of islands and atolls that is a popular tourist destination.
Officials said coast guard boats and an aircraft were being sent to the disabled ship.
Costa Crociere said in a statement that after the fire began in its Costa Allegra's electric generator room, "the special firefighting units intervened to extinguish it.
"The fire did not spread to any other area of the ship. There were no injuries or casualties," the statement said. It did not say what caused the fire.
The cruise company said that a general emergency alarm was "promptly sounded" as a precaution, and that all passengers and crew not involved in the emergency reach muster stations.
After the Concordia cruise ship struck a reef off Italy's tiny Tuscan island on Jan. 13, its captain was arrested and several other officials were placed under investigation. When the Concordia listed to one side, many people hadn't been evacuated on life boats and some jumped into the sea. Concordia passengers said that the order to evacuate came about an hour after the ship was speared by the reef and started taking on water.
On Monday, Italian coast guard officials dispatched cargo ships near the Costa Allegra to help.
The Seychelles coast guard and air wing mobilized, and an aircraft was flying over the ship late Monday evening, said Seychelles presidential spokeswoman Srdjana Janosevic. The island's port authority sent two tugs to the stricken ship.
"And there are fishing vessels in the vicinity, large ones, that are going to provide support as well," Janosevic said. "They have assistance coming to them.'"
The Allegra had left northern Madagascar, off Africa's southeast coast, on Saturday and was cruising toward the port of Victoria, Seychelles' capital, when the fire erupted. Costa said the Allegra had been due in Victoria on Tuesday.
The Allegra was built in Italian shipyards in 1992, is 615 feet long, has eight passenger decks and 399 cabins.