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Giant waves hit cruise ship; 2 passengers killed

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Giant waves slam cruise ship
  • 26-foot waves hit ship with 1,350 passengers aboard
  • German, Italian passengers killed when waves smashed windows
  • Fourteen other people injured
  • Vessel, the Louis Majesty, returns to port in Barcelona, Spain

Madrid, Spain (CNN) -- Two passengers aboard a cruise ship were killed when 26-foot waves crashed into the vessel Wednesday off northeast Spain, officials said. Fourteen others were injured.

The Greece-based Louis Cruise Lines ship was in the Mediterranean north of Barcelona when it was hit by three "abnormal" waves, each about 26 feet (9 meters) high, cruise line spokesman Michael Maratheftis said.

As a result, five windows in public areas -- on the forward part, or bow, of the 14-deck ship -- were smashed, and two male passengers -- a German and an Italian -- were killed, he said.

Fourteen others were treated aboard the ship for light injuries but were hospitalized as a precaution when the ship returned to Barcelona on Wednesday night, Maratheftis said.

Video: 'Total chaos' on cruise ship
Video: Deadly wave's storm
Video: Two killed by giant wave

Spain's state news agency reported that two of the passengers had serious injuries, including a 62-year-old woman with fractures in both legs. Maratheftis would not provide specifics, but said there were no life-threatening injuries to the 14 wounded passengers.

The vessel, the Louis Majesty, was sailing under a Maltese flag and traveling from Barcelona, Spain, to Genoa, Italy, the Greek Public Ministry of the Mercantile Marine said.

The incident occurred 24 miles off the coast of Cabo de San Sebastian near the Spanish town of Palafrugell, Maratheftis said

The ship had 1,350 passengers and 580 crew members, the Greek ministry said.

The passengers, including three Americans, were from 27 nations, Maratheftis said in phone interviews from Cyprus.

Buoy data off the French coast indicated that weather was the likely cause of the high waves. Winds were at 45 mph at that buoy.

All of the passengers were to be flown home on Thursday from Barcelona at the expense of Louis Cruise Lines, Maratheftis said.

"The next cruise has been canceled," and the Louis Majesty will remain in Barcelona for repairs, Maratheftis said. The vessel is due to resume cruises on March 14, he said.

CNN's Al Goodman, Stephanie Halasz, Ben Brumfield and Chad Myers contributed to this report.