Experts analysing cruise ship before next course of action

Experts, including over a dozen engineers, will analyse the condition of the Azamara Quest cruise ship now docked at the Karamunting port here after a fire broke out in its engine room last Friday. Azamara Club Cruises president and CEO Larry Pimentel said it would take between 24 and 48 hours to find out if the ship can be repaired here, or if it would need to move to another facility. "When you have fire in the engine room, sometimes cables are affected, and these carry power. The captain and crew did manage to get the ship operating and they came in the day before yesterday successfully.

"It is possible that the ship may have to go to a location, and one of the largest in this part of the world is Singapore," Pimentel said when met at the Sandakan Airport after sending off the second batch of passengers to Singapore on chartered flights. On the cause of the fire, Pimentel said it was still being investigated, and that he expects to get an initial report tomorrow afternoon. He said Sandakan was the closest port based on coordinates and tides, and that the decision to dock here was in the interest of safety.

He said depending on the condition of the vessel, the crew will stay on board if it is possible for the ship to manoeuvre itself. "These situations are dynamic. We need a lot of experts to try this and that. For the moment, the crew stays on board," he said. He added that the injured crew member currently at the Duchess of Kent Hospital will be stabilised and will be sent with an air ambulance to a larger facility with proper diagnostics to get extensive pulmonary care for the lungs.

"Our crew is like family and to see someone do their job and get harmed is difficult. Yesterday, I spoke to injured crew, but we have one in intensive care and we hope to stabilise him soon," he said. Pimentel said none of the guests from 25 nations were injured, and had made many kind comments about the crew from over 50 nations for assisting them through the ordeal at sea. He said guests, who were housed in seven different hotels, have been secured on a variety of chartered flights, and that everything has gone of exceedingly well. The ship with 590 passengers and 411 crew had set sail on 26 March from Hong Kong and was on a voyage that was supposed to end in Singapore on 12 April. A fire broke out in the engine room about 180 nautical miles south of Palawan island in the Philippines, and it made its way safely to the port here two days later Source : The Star / BERNAMA