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

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

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>


  • [01] Police investigates cause of cruise liner inferno

  • 1630:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] Police investigates cause of cruise liner inferno

    Limassol, Oct 4 (CNA) -- The Cyprus Police has drawn up an action plan which is already underway, following the evacuation of some 700 passengers from a Cypriot cruise liner ablaze some 60 miles off the southern coast of Cyprus.

    Police Chief Panicos Hadjiloizou told reporters after all passengers and crew of "Romantica" arrived safe at Limassol port aboard another cruise liner, the "Princessa Victoria", that together with the Department of Merchant Shipping they began investigations into the cause of the fire.

    He said Police began implementing an action plan, noting that many passengers left the ship without taking their personal possessions or even their passports.

    The Police Chief spoke as 475 passengers and 180 crew disembarked from "Princessa Victoria".

    A number of foreign passengers refused to disembark, claiming they were not told of what had happened and demanded they wanted to see a representative from their embassy here.

    Hadjiloizou said the Police had contacted the embassies of all people on board.

    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) as well as 186 crew.

    Passengers told the dozens of journalists and TV crews which swarmed Limassol port that they did not panic when they found out the ship was on fire.

    "There was just a fire, there was no panic at all and we were then evacuated", a British woman said.

    Another Briton said there was some shouting, while others blamed the crew. A Cypriot passenger described it as a "very bad experience."

    All passengers eventually disembarked and were transferred by coaches to hotels in Limassol.

    The captain of "Princessa Victoria" reassured that there was no human loss or injury to any of the passengers or crew.

    Yiannis Papadopoulos said the "Romantica" had sent a mayday around 0530 local time (0230 GMT). He said "Princessa Victoria" was 12 nautical miles away from the burning ship.

    She arrived at the scene of the incident 45 minutes later and passengers were already abandoning the ship with the lifeboats. Victoria lowered two lifeboats to help evacuate the passengers.

    He said Victoria picked up all passengers who were abandoning the ship while two Wessex type helicopters of the British Bases winched 36 passengers from "Romantica" to the "Victoria".

    By 0800 local time (0500 GMT) the operation was completed. "Victoria's" Sub-lieutenant, Antonis Mavrides, told reporters that the good weather conditions helped in the smooth and quick transfer of passengers and crew from "Romantica".

    Two tugs are at the scene of the incident in an effort to bring the ship in safe waters which was earlier reported to be sinking.

    "Romantica's" captain and six crew were aboard a British military ship overlooking the operation.

    The owners of "Romantica", New Paradise Tours, reiterated they did not know what caused the fire in the ship's engine.

    Communication and Works Minister Leontios Ierodiakonou said he did not believe the fire was the result of arson. He said the ship fulfilled all safety requirements.

    CNA EC/AP/1997
    Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
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