Cruise ship catches fire off Palawan

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 31 2012 11:35 AM | Updated as of Apr 01 2012 07:22 PM

MV Azamara Quest of the Royal Caribbean Lines. Photo courtesy of www.azamaraclubcruises.com

Azamara Club Cruises cancels rest of luxury ship's voyage

MANILA, Philippines (5th UPDATE) – Five crew members of the luxury cruise ship, MV Azamara Quest, were injured when it caught fire while en route from Manila to Sandakan in Sabah, Malaysia.
 
Lt. Commander Algier Ricafrente, spokesperson of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), said four of those injured are already in stable condition and the other one has been attended to by medical personnel on board the ship.
 
“However, based on the conversation with the ship captain, hindi na kailangang i-medical evacuate ‘yung isang patient dahil kumpleto naman ‘yung gamit nila doon sa barko,” said Ricafrente during an interview with ANC’s “Dateline Philippines.”

The crew member receiving treatment was identified as Juan Carlos Rivera Escobar.

Ricafrente said the ship is carrying 590 passengers, mostly Europeans and American tourists, and 411 crew.
 
Radio dzMM reported that the MV Azamara Quest of the Royal Caribbean Lines left Manila last March 29 (Thursday) for Sandakan, Malaysia. It was set to make stops in other ports in Indonesia and then to Singapore.
 
The PCG said the ship called for help after a minor fire happened Friday night.
 
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) also deployed three ships to provide assistance to the ship and its passengers, said Major Neil Estrella, spokesman of the AFP Western Mindanao Command.

Power has been restored at the ship and it is now being escorted by a coast guard vessel until it reaches the boundary of Sandakan.

According to the Facebook account of the Azamara Club Cruises, the fire started in one of the ship’s engine rooms at 8:19 p.m. on Friday.
 
“The fire was contained to that engine room and was quickly extinguished. There were no injuries of guests reported and the atmosphere aboard is calm. However, in an abundance of caution, the Captain deemed it necessary to muster all guests at their assembly stations,” the company said.

"Unfortunately, five crew members onboard the ship suffered smoke inhalation during the fire. The crew members are being treated in our medical facility. However, one crew member is more seriously injured and requires additional and urgent medical attention that can only be provided in a hospital. Once the ship arrives in Sandakan, the crew member will be immediately transported to a local area hospital," it added.

As a result of the fire, the rest of the ship's voyage will have to be cancelled.

"The damage caused by the fire will require us to cancel the rest of Azamara Quest’s voyage once the ship arrives in Sandakan. We encourage guests on the April 12, 2012, sailing of Azamara Quest to monitor this website on Monday, April 2 for an update on your voyage," the company said.

Azamara Club Cruises said its president and CEO, Larry Pimentel, will be flying to Sandakan to meet with the passengers personally. He is scheduled to arrive in Malaysia on Monday morning.
 
“In order for family and friends to receive updates about the Azamara Quest and our guests and crew, we have established two new and dedicated phone numbers. Guests can call toll free in the United States & Canada at +1.888.829.4050. Guests outside of the United States can call direct or collect at +1.408.916.9001,” it added.
 
Azamara Quest is currently on a 17-night sailing that departed Hong Kong, China, on Monday, March 26, and includes port calls to Manila, Philippines; Balikpapan (Borneo), Palapo (Sulawesi), Benoa Bali, Semarang and Komodo, Indonesia and concludes in Singapore on Thursday, April 12. -- with reports from Johnson Manabat and Ricky Velasco, dzMM