Coki Beach, St. Thomas

Update, 10 a.m. EDT: A Carnival spokesman confirms this morning that the vehicle involved in the St. Thomas incident was "an open-top multi-passenger taxi"; these are commonly referred to as "safaris."

(3 a.m. EDT) -- A 14-year-old cruise passenger has died after being caught in a crossfire in the popular Coki Beach area of St. Thomas.

A statement from Carnival this morning indicates that although the family was not on a shore excursion sold by the ship, the line is suspending all excursions that include the Coki Beach area until further notice. The Associated Press has reported that the teenage girl, Lizmarie Perez Chapparro from Puerto Rico, had been travelling on Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Victory with her family, when they took a trip ashore to Coki Point Beach on Monday.

The Associated Press reports that the victim was travelling on a packed safari bus at the time of the shootings; however, Carnival's statement indicates she was riding in a tourist taxi. We're awaiting clarification on those details.

According to local police, via Carnival's statement, preliminary findings suggest the family was caught in the crossfire of a gun battle between local gangmembers. Another cruise ship passenger sustained a minor injury during the shootout.

Cruise Critic members onboard the voyage have posted on the message boards to say they were told of the sad news in a letter from Captain Salvatore Messina.

The letter reads: "A small group of guests, participating in independent sightseeing activities, were victims of a random exchange of gun-fire between local residents while en route to the Coki Beach area in St. Thomas. Tragically a 14 year old female guest was fatally injured and one other guest sustained minor injuries."

Carnival's CareTeam staff are supporting the family and other guests. Arrangements have been made by the St. Thomas Ministry of Tourism to fly the family home to Puerto Rico.

Carnival Victory operates year-round seven-day Caribbean cruises from San Juan, Puerto Rico. The ship departed San Juan on Sunday, July 11.

"Carnival Cruise Lines is profoundly shocked and saddened by this tragedy," the statement continues, "and we extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to the victim's family and loved ones in the wake of this unfathomable act of senseless violence."

Our thoughts go out to the families and friends affected by this tragic event.

--by Kelly Ranson, U.K. Editor

Image of Coki Beach appears courtesy of member Abberboo.

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