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Fire forces passengers off Tahitian cruise

A fire cut short a Tahitian cruise for 127 passengers on the Wind Song.
A fire cut short a Tahitian cruise for 127 passengers on the Wind Song.

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FT. LAUDERDALE, Florida (CNN) -- An engine room fire aboard a cruise ship off the Tahitian Islands forced the evacuation of all 127 passengers Sunday and most of the crew, a spokeswoman for the cruise line's owner said.

Crew members aboard the sailing vessel Wind Song escorted passengers from the ship early Sunday, said Rose Abello, a spokeswoman for Holland America, the ship's owner.

"The passengers disembarked in an orderly fashion. No one was hurt. They were transferred to a ferry and taken to the island of Raiatea," Abello said.

The passengers on board the 440-foot motor sailing yacht had been on the third day of a seven-day cruise when the fire cut short the voyage. Its cause was not immediately determined.

The blaze was reported Sunday at 1:30 a.m. (6:30 a.m. ET), when the four-masted vessel was about a mile off the coast of Raiatea, the second-largest island in French Polynesia.

The passengers were to be put on a charter flight to Papeete, Tahiti, the capital of French Polynesia, Abello said.

Upon their arrival, "the passengers will be taken to hotels and given whatever they need to make them comfortable," she said. Each vacationer will be offered a full refund for the cruise and related travel expenses and a free cruise at a future date, she added.

Americans typically make up most of the ship's passengers, Abello said.

The blaze aboard the Wind Song was extinguished, but Abello said hot spots remained.

Late Sunday, the boat was at anchor off the coast of Raiatea, with 17 of its 92 crew members still on board. The other crew members evacuated with the passengers.

A tugboat, still several hours away, was en route to the ship's location. A patrol boat, expected to arrive by 12:45 p.m. Sunday (5:45 p.m. ET), was also on its way.

There was no immediate word on whether the ship's next scheduled cruise, set to begin December 6, would be canceled.

The Wind Song was built in 1987 and can carry 148 passengers.

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