Passengers from the stricken liner, Costa Allegra, left adrift in the Indian Ocean after a fire on board, are being shipped to the luxurious Desroches Island in the Seychelles, and to safety. Desroches Island has been chosen as a sanctuary for distressed passengers from the ship due to its ability to facilitate them comfortably. Desroches Island is one of the few outer islands of the Seychelles that can accommodate some of the passengers and crew and will assist in evacuating the remaining to Mahe, as there were over 1000 people on board. The Costa Allegra, which is owned by the same Italian company that owns the Costa Concordia, which ran aground off Tuscany last month, was stranded without power after a fire in its engine room. Costa Cruises confirmed there are 636 passengers on the Costa Allegra, 31 Britons and one Irish person, along with 413 crew members. All passengers and crew on the liner are reported to be safe and the fire has been extinguished. Two tugboats from the Seychelles are towing the Costa Allegra, a ship that weighs 28,597-tonnes, to Descroches Island. Accommodation at Desroches’ surpasses that offered at many of the most prestigious island hotels and resorts and it usually serves as a retreat for captains of industry, world leaders and renowned celebrities, so the Costa Allegra’s passengers and crew will be in tranquil and luxurious surrounds. The coastguard said that following a period at Desroches Island, passengers would be transferred to the Seychelles’ main island. In a statement the ship’s owner, Costa Crociere, said no one was hurt in the fire and it was quickly extinguished. “The shipboard fire-extinguishing system and procedures were promptly activated and the special firefighting units intervened to extinguish (the) fire,” the statement said. “The fire did not spread to any other area of the ship. There were no injuries or casualties.” Captain Giorgio Moretti said the air conditioning and lights had been knocked out when the power went, but emergency generators kept the command room lit and instruments such as its radio functioning. Apparently, the rest of the ship was dark, although passengers were allocated large communal rooms rather than their cabins as night fell. “We are very fortunate to have truly excellent, passionate members of staff that will ensure all passengers of the Costa Allegra are well looked after and cared for” commented Mark Leslie, General Manager of Desroches Island. UPDATE There’s been a change of plan and the passengers won’t be going to Desroches Island afterall. It’s been decided that the facilities on the island are inadequate to cope with the arrival of so many people, and that it’s not safe enough for the ship to dock in the island’s small port and for guests to get ashore. Instead, it’s now being towed around 250km (155 miles) further to the island of Mahe, which is home to the Seychelles capital and largest city, Victoria.
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