End of 'rough ride' for Allegra passengers

2012-03-01 11:46
Victoria - Passengers on the crippled Italian liner Costa Allegra Thursday said they thought they would have to get into lifeboats and abandon ship in pirate-infested waters when it was disabled by fire.

"When it all happened we were ready to get into the lifeboats. We thought the worst had happened," said Chris, one of more than 600 passengers who stepped gratefully ashore in the Seychelles capital after a three-day ordeal.

"I couldn't believe it, after what happened to the other cruise ship. I could just picture having to jump for it into the water - my wife was terrified."

Passengers spent most of the time crowded on the Costa Allegra's decks fighting sweltering temperatures since an engine fire knocked out power on Monday, cutting electricity, air conditioning and shutting down toilet facilities.

"It was absolutely atrocious," said Henri, an 82-year old Frenchman, his voice breaking with emotion.

"No lights, no toilets. I could hardly sleep up there on deck with so many people all crushed together... The first day was fine but it got steadily worse. It was awful."

Medical teams were on standby as more than 1 000 passengers and crew arrived on Mahe, the main island of the Seychelles archipelago, where the ship had been towed by a fishing boat after it was disabled by fire in an area where Somali pirates operate.

Italian investigators were also awaiting the liner, a converted container vessel which belongs to the same fleet as the doomed Costa Concordia that went aground off Tuscany last month.

"It's been a rough ride, we had to sleep on deck because there was no air conditioning and the cabins stank, because we couldn't flush the toilets," said Alena Daem, a 62-year-old passenger from Belgium.

"There was food, but nothing that had to be cooked. We ate a lot of bread. I'm exhausted and pretty glad the whole thing is over," she added.

Passengers appeared exhausted and disorientated as they arrived on land, although some in apparently better spirits had waved and cheered from the ship's decks as the ship docked.

Read more on:    seychelles  |  southern africa
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