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Disabled Italian cruise ship gets a tow to Seychelles

By Hada Messia, CNN
updated 9:19 AM EST, Tue February 28, 2012
The Costa Allegra berthed in Hong Kong prior to its maiden voyage to Mumbai, India, on May 29, 2006.
The Costa Allegra berthed in Hong Kong prior to its maiden voyage to Mumbai, India, on May 29, 2006.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: A Coast Guard ship and tugboats have reached the Costa Allegra, official says
  • NEW: The Seychelles government is preparing to assist passengers
  • A large French fishing boat is towing the cruise ship after a fire left it without propulsion
  • Its sister ship, the Costa Concordia, shipwrecked last month, killing at least 21

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Rome (CNN) -- A large French fishing ship began towing a disabled Italian cruise ship to port early Tuesday -- a day after a fire in its engine room left it adrift, the Seychelles Coast Guard said.

A Seychelles Coast Guard ship reached the Costa Allegra later in the day, along with an air force plane and two tugboats from the Seychelles Ports Authority, said Seychelles presidential spokeswoman Srdjana Janosevic. The ship was being escorted to Port Victoria, the Seychelles capital, she said.

The Allegra lost power in the Indian Ocean Monday with 636 passengers on board and a crew of 413, according to Costa Cruises.

Costa initially said Tuesday the ship was expected to arrive Wednesday at the Seychelles island of Desroches, but said later that after "extensive and accurate checks," passengers could not get off on Desroches.

The ship instead will be towed to the Seychelles island of Mahe, where Port Victoria is located, the cruise line said.

"The disembarkation in Desroches does not assure the necessary and adequate security conditions for mooring the ship and guests' disembarkation," the cruise line said in a statement. "In addition, logistics and hotels on the island are not enough; it would require an immediate transfer from Desroches to Mahe through ferries."

The Seychelles government is "assisting the process," Janosevic said in a written statement. "Arrangements are being made for accommodation, international flights and other necessary services upon (passengers') arrival."

The ship is expected to arrive Wednesday night or Thursday morning, depending on sea conditions, she said.

Most of the passengers are from Europe, but eight are from the United States and 13 are from Canada.

The cruise line said it had reached the emergency contacts of 402 passengers to inform them of the situation.

All the passengers are in good health, the Italian coast guard said Monday.

Costa said the passengers were served a cold breakfast Tuesday morning and have been invited to prepare their luggage for disembarkation.

"Helicopters will ensure (a) continuous supply of food, comfort items and flashlights in order to mitigate guests' discomfort given the difficult conditions on board," Costa said.

The ship departed from Diego Suarez, Madagascar, on Saturday and was originally scheduled to arrive in the Seychelles Tuesday.

The Allegra is a sister of the Costa Concordia, which wrecked off the coast of Italy on January 13, killing at least 21 people.

CNN's Zain Verjee, Vladimir Duthiers and Aliza Kassim contributed to this report.

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