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Costa Cruises liner towed to Seychelles' main island

28 February 2012

Author: George Thande

Taken from: Reuters - Costa Cruises liner towed to Seychelles' main island

VICTORIA (Reuters) - A crippled cruise ship owned by the company whose giant liner was wrecked off Italy last month is being towed by a French tuna boat to the main island in the Seychelles, its owners said Tuesday.

An engine room fire on the Costa Allegra knocked out the ship's main power supply in the Indian Ocean Monday, leaving it adrift with more than a thousand people on board in waters vulnerable to pirate attacks.

The ship's Italian owner, Costa Cruises, a unit of U.S. cruise line giant Carnival Corp, said a plan to tow it to the nearer island of Desroches had been aborted because it would have been harder to moor and disembark the passengers there.

The Trevignon, a deep sea trawler which sails the oceans for tuna from the Atlantic port of Concarneau, is pulling the Costa Allegra, a vessel many times its size, on a 400-meter cable at a speed of only about six knots, the Trevignon's skipper Alain Dervout told his local French newspaper, Ouest-France.

He was joined Tuesday by two tugs and a coastguard ship, all from Seychelles, the archipelago's government said. A military aircraft was also flying in support of the operation.

The cruise ship was due to arrive at the Seychelles capital of Victoria Wednesday evening or Thursday morning, depending on weather conditions, government spokeswoman Srdjana Janosevic said. Clocks in the Seychelles are four hours ahead of GMT.

"Helicopters will ensure continuous supply of food, comfort items, flashlights in order to mitigate guests' discomfort given the difficult conditions on board," Costa Cruises spokesman Davide Barbano said in a statement.

A team from the Italian coastguard is heading to the Seychelles to investigate the accident, but a spokesman for the agency it would be wrong to make analogies to the Costa Concordia disaster on January 13, in which at least 25 people died and over which a criminal investigation has been launched.

"They are two different situations, totally different conditions, so they are not related accidents," Cosimo Nicastro told Reuters.