Cruise line: Crippled ship to reach land Thursday

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Helicopters ferried food, phones and flashlights Tuesday to more than 1,000 passengers and crew stuck aboard a disabled cruise ship that was being towed to the Seychelles Islands through waters prowled by pirates.

Those aboard the Costa Allegra, a sister ship of the cruise liner that capsized off Italy last month, faced more stifling days and nights before the vessel docks in the tropical paradise.

The stricken liner was expected to reach the main Seychelles island of Mahe on Thursday, the Italian cruise operator said.

“The speed of the ship, despite the hot and humid climate, creates a slight breeze that helps make the situation more comfortable,” a company statement said.

It said fresh bread would be brought in Wednesday since cooking was impossible, but added there was “no lack of food and other comfort items.”

Fire erupted Monday in the ship’s generator room, knocking out power to its engines, lights and air conditioning. The blaze came just six weeks after the Costa Concordia hit a reef and capsized off Italy, killing 32 people. Both ships are operated by Costa Crociere SpA, which is owned by Florida-based Carnival Corp.

Cruise officials initially said the stranded travelers would be taken by Wednesday to Desroches, a small, exclusive coral-lined island in the Seychelles. But they changed the destination to the larger island of Mahe, citing safety and logistical reasons.

Two tug boats joined a French fishing vessel to tow the Costa Allegra, which was being escorted by the Seychelles coast guard ship Andromache and an air force plane. The liner was carrying 413 crew members and 636 passengers, including 212 Italians, 31 Britons and eight Americans. Four passengers were children ages 3 or younger.

No one was injured in Monday’s fire, but the blaze set the cruise liner adrift at sea in a region where Somali pirates prey on ships.

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