George Thande –
Weary passengers complained of unbearable heat and appalling hygiene for three days in the Indian Ocean aboard cruise ship Costa Allegra after a fire knocked out the vessel’s main power supply.
With no air conditioning, running water, lights or hot food, the 627 passengers were forced to sleep on deck in the stifling heat until the liner was towed into Seychelles capital Victoria on Thursday.
One of the Costa Allegra’s three diesel generators caught fire on Monday and although the blaze was extinguished within an hour two more generators in the engine room then failed, the ship’s captain, Niccolo Alba, told a news conference.
Alba said a general emergency was declared when the generator caught fire, the lifeboats were prepared and passengers were ready to abandon ship as the liner drifted in the Indian Ocean, where Somali pirates roam.
“It was terrible, as you can imagine.
Hygiene conditions were absolutely deplorable. I have some photos that show the state of the toilets.
We stayed for three days without electricity, it’s very difficult to live in such conditions, especially in such heat,” one passenger told Reuters Television.
Alba said two people had fallen in the dark and hurt themselves, but he denied an earlier report from a Seychelles health ministry official that six people had broken limbs.
“They were able to put the fire out and from that point on, it was just a matter of inconvenience, not having enough food, not being able to rest well at night…the heat is unbearable, so we had to spend most of our nights on the top deck of the ship,” said another passenger.
More than half the passengers took up the offer of a seven or 14-day holiday on the archipelago from the ship’s owner Costa Cruises, the same company whose giant liner Costa Concordia smashed into rocks off Italy in January.
At 29,000 gross tonnes, the ship is considerably smaller than the huge Costa Concordia which capsized, killing at least 25 people.