(1 p.m. EDT) -- It's only Monday, and it's already been a bad week for Costa Cruises' Costa Classica. Earlier this morning, the ship, which is cruising around Asia, was in a collision with a cargo vessel as it was returning to its Shanghai homeport. Costa Classica now has a 20-meter gash that stretches along the starboard side of Deck 5, according to a statement released by the cruise line.
The gash is above the waterline, and the ship is docked alongside in Shanghai.
Passengers were required to muster at emergency stations after the collision, which occurred at 4:46 a.m., and have now been debarked. There were some minor injuries, and three passengers have been taken to hospitals.
Costa Classica's next cruise, slated to visit ports in Japan, Hong Kong and Korea, has been cancelled. At this point, no other details are available about the ship's repair or what arrangements Costa is making for those who had planned to embark the ship today.
In other news on this eventful cruise, which began in Shanghai and visited ports in Japan and Korea, 44 passengers from China did not return to the vessel after a day spent touring Korea's Jeju. It is believed that the travelers had planned to immigrate illegally. In another statement issued by the cruise line, officials note that "in compliance with international protocols, Costa immediately reported the fact to local Korean authorities, who are currently investigating."
In a story filed Sunday by Agence France Presse wire service, immigration officials have found 11 of the passengers in local hotels and are searching for the rest. It quotes an unnamed immigration investigator: "considering that the Chinese tourists caught by the police have left their passports aboard the cruise ship but took their luggage, they appear to have entered the country to stay illegally and get jobs."
We'll keep you updated.
--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief
Costa Ship Gashed in Collision