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Four killed in explosion on cruise ship

Police: Blast appears to have been accidental

Police boats gather Sunday near the bow of the cruise ship Norway after the ship's boiler exploded.
Police boats gather Sunday near the bow of the cruise ship Norway after the ship's boiler exploded.

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CNN's Susan Candiotti says a boiler exploded on the S.S. Norway shortly after the cruise ship docked in Miami, Florida. (May 25)
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MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- A boiler aboard the cruise ship S.S. Norway exploded Sunday shortly after the ship docked in Miami, killing four crew members and injuring at least 21 others, police said.

Thirteen crew members were critically injured, and seven to 10 others suffered less-serious injuries, said Miami-Dade Police Director Carlos Alvarez. No passengers were injured in the explosion, which Alvarez said appeared to have been accidental.

The blast sprayed high-pressure steam throughout a compartment deep within the aft end of the ship, Alvarez said.

"All of these were steam-related injuries, which would indicate burns," he said. The injured crew members were taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.

The explosion was reported at 6:37 a.m., about half an hour after the ship completed a weeklong cruise of the eastern Caribbean carrying 2,135 passengers and about 1,000 crew members, said the ship's owner, Norwegian Cruise Lines.

The Norway was launched in 1962 as the France, then the largest passenger liner afloat. It was renamed in 1980 and refurbished for Caribbean cruises.

Senior Vice President Robert Kritzman said the cruise line was "deeply saddened" by the deaths.

"Our primary concern right now is the crew members who suffered injuries," he said.

The explosion blew four crew members through a cargo doorway and into the water, Alvarez said.

"We had an officer standing approximately 30 feet away from an open cargo door and observed individuals being actually blown out of the cargo door," he said. The officer lowered a rope ladder to the water to help them back onto the dock.

Although the nation is under a "high" terrorism alert, "There is absolutely no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing whatsoever," Alvarez said. "It just appears to be a very tragic accident."

The National Transportation Safety Board said it has dispatched 10 investigators to the ship.

After the explosion, the cruise line canceled the Norway's scheduled departure Sunday afternoon, and the line is offering ticketholders for that excursion a refund and credit toward future cruises.

-- CNN correspondent Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.

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