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Cyprus News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-10-04

Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <http://www.cyna.org.cy>


CONTENTS

  • [01] Cypriot cruise liner on fire
  • [02] All passengers safe, ship sinking
  • [03] Passengers from sinking ship arrive at Limassol
  • [04] Defence issues not negotiable, says Clerides

  • 1000:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] Cypriot cruise liner on fire

    Limassol, Oct 4 (CNA) -- A Cypriot registered cruise liner, "Romantica" was on fire this morning, 65 miles south of Akrotiri but its passengers and crew were all safe.

    According to Mervyn Wynne Jones, the Chief Public Relations officer of the British Forces in Cyprus, Romantica, with 487 passengers and 186 crew, was having an engine fire 65 miles south of Akrotiri.

    The Forces, he said, sent two of its Wessex helicopters from Akrotiri to the scene which helped transfer the passengers and crew to another British military ship, the "Tristram", a Royal Fleet auxiliary vessel, which was 30 miles away from the incident.

    He said that all passengers and crew were then transferred to another Cyprus-flagged cruise liner "Princessa Victoria" which was sailing nearby.

    A Cyprus police helicopter was also sent at the scene and two coast- guard tugs had been sent from Limassol.

    The Wessex helicopters returned to their base and the British Forces are now sending teams of firefighters back to the ship.

    Jones described the fire "big", but reassured that nobody was in danger. "All passengers and crew have been accounted for", he added.

    Although the cause of the fire is still unknown, Jones and a representative from "Paradise Tours", which own the ship, told CNA they believe that the fire started in one of the engines.

    "Romantica" was returning to Limassol port from Port Said, Egypt. The mayday signal was received by Cyprus police at 0615 local time (0315 GMT), some 15 minutes after the fire broke out.

    CNA RM/EC/AP/1997
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
    1315:CYPPRESS:02

    [02] All passengers safe, ship sinking

    Nicosia, Oct 4 (CNA) -- As the passengers of Cypriot cruise ship "Romantica", ablaze around 70 nautical miles off the southern coast of the island, were due shortly to arrive safely at Limassol port, the cruise liner has taken a tilt and is expected to sink.

    Relatives and friends of the passengers gathered at Limassol port anxious to meet them.

    Five crew members, including the captain of the ill-fated ship, remained at the scene of the shipwreck when the passengers were evacuated.

    Latest reports said they were returning to Limassol aboard a British military ship which was at the scene with British fire experts, who tried to put out the fire.

    Police said aboard the ship were 487 passengers (225 Russians, 120 Britons, 34 Hungarians, 22 Swedes, 21 Dutch, 18 Germans, and smaller number of Polish and Norwegian nationals, and six Greek Cypriots) and 186-member crew.

    Communications and Works Minister, Leontios Ierodiakonou said he did not believe the fire was the result of arson. Priliminary reports suggest that the fire broke out in the engine room.

    The Minister said the ship fulfilled all safety requirements. He said the ship had faced only some problems in the past in its sewage system.

    Police said they received a mayday signal from "Romantica" around 0615 local time (0315 GMT) as it was returning to Limassol port from Port Said, Egypt.

    Two Wessex helicopters of the British Base of Akrotiri rushed to the scene of the shipwreck to help in the rescue operation.

    A British military ship the "Tristram", which at the time was 30 miles from the scene, approached the "Romantica" and helped carry passengers to another Cypriot cruise liner, the "Princessa Victoria", which was heading to Limassol from Egypt.

    Taking part in the rescue operation were also two Police coastguard vessels and a Police helicopter.

    The "Princessa Victoria" captain, Yiannis Papadopoulos said aboard his ship there were 475 passengers and 180-member crew from "Romantica", and 468 passengers and 231-member crew from "Victoria". He reassured that all people were safe and no one was missing.

    The Police leadership, headed by Chief Panicos Hadjiloizou, flew this morning to Limassol to closely monitor rescue efforts.

    However, reports said the ship took a dangerous tilt and nothing could be done to rescue it from sinking.

    CNA EC/GP/1997
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
    1350:CYPPRESS:03

    [03] Passengers from sinking ship arrive at Limassol

    Limassol, Oct 4 (CNA) -- All passengers and crew evacuated from sinking "Romantica" cruise liner arrived at 1315 local time (1015 GMT) safely at Limassol Port aboard another cruise liner, the "Princessa Victoria".

    The 475 passengers and the 180-member crew of the "Romantica" and the 468 passengers and 231-member crew of the "Princessa Victoria" began disembarking.

    CNA EC/GP/1997
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
    1420:CYPPRESS:04

    [04] Defence issues not negotiable, says Clerides

    New York, Oct 4 (CNA) -- President Glafcos Clerides has said defence issues are not negotiable and clarified that trade transactions between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities can only begin after a Cyprus solution is reached.

    President Clerides was speaking Friday on arrival here where he will address Monday the 52nd UN General Assembly and meet with UN Secretary- General, Kofi Annan, and US officials.

    Asked to comment on his working breakfast on Tuesday with US presidential emissary, Richard Holbrooke, the President said Holbrooke had suggested that a group of American businessmen interested in investing in Cyprus, should also participate.

    "The Americans want to know about Cyprus' legislation regarding investments and our banking system," he said.

    Finance Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou and Central Bank Governor Afxentis Afxentiou will also be present.

    President Clerides said Holbrooke had not given the impression he connected this meeting and a November meeting in Brussels between Greek and Turkish Cypriot entrepreneurs and Greek and Turkish businessmen, with efforts to open trade transactions between the two communities before a Cyprus solution was reached.

    "We have repeatedly stressed that trade can only begin when a solution to the problem is reached," he added.

    Commenting on security talks he started last week with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, the President said "for this dialogue to have a perspective it should cover basic issues on security," leading to the island's demilitarisation.

    President Clerides reiterated his proposal for the complete demilitarisation of Cyprus and the deployment of a multinational force, under UN Security Council auspices, which could only step in when one of the two communities would be in danger from illegal activities of the other.

    "We will never negotiate issues regarding our defence, unless a general framework leading to demilitarisation was found," he said.

    The President was adamant that he would not accept to negotiate the deployment expected in mid-1998 of the Russian surface-to-air S-300 missiles in the government-controlled areas of Cyprus.

    He expressed hope that a positive and better climate would prevail for the peace negotiations to bear fruit.

    "We never had any difficulty in creating this climate, once the other side responded positively," he noted.

    President Clerides said he had made it clear to the US, the European Union and the British government that the Greek Cypriot side could only negotiate until October, in view of the election campaign for the February 1998 presidential elections.

    CNA JD/AP/GP/1997
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
    CNA ENDS
    Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
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