Three crew members were killed onboard Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas Friday while repairing a pipe in a propeller shaft tunnel that unexpectedly disgorged gas-laden sludge out of a sewage tank, releasing fatal levels of hydrogen sulfide. The crew members were killed instantly; 19 others were injured. The incident occurred at about 9 a.m. Friday, according to media reports, as the ship was preparing to debark passengers, having just returned to the Port of Los Angeles from a four-night Baja California voyage.
In the most deadly onboard accident since an explosion on Norwegian Cruise Line's Norway two years ago killed eight crew members and injured 20 more, the 2,649 passengers were evacuated amidst a stench compared to that of rotten eggs. None were injured.
Monarch of the Seas was detained by port order from embarking passengers for its weekend cruise while investigators from the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as Bahamian registry officials and a variety of local health and safety authorities, inspected the area. The cause of the accident is still unknown.
All 19 crew members were released from the hospital yesterday, according to Royal Caribbean spokesman Michael Sheehan. Eighteen reboarded the ship while one remained at a Los Angeles hotel for observation.
The port order was lifted yesterday afternoon and those scheduled to cruise on Monarch of the Seas this weekend were able to board. The ship departed at about midnight -- approximately six hours later than scheduled.
Sheehan says that the cruise line is "in the process of notifying families of the dead crew members and assisting in making arrangements."