Update: Costa Cruise Ship Adrift in the Indian Ocean After Engine Room Fire

February 27, 2012

Update, 9:30 p.m. EST: A French-flagged, 295-foot-long (90 meters) ocean-going fishing ship was the first to reach Costa Allegra, reports Bloomberg. Another ship of similar size currently is sailing toward Costa Allegra and will join two merchant ships and two tugboats expected to arrive Tuesday afternoon local time, said Costa in a statement. Officials will determine how to proceed at that time. Costa's statement said the line is keeping in touch with passengers' families via their emergency-contact numbers. The line has contacted the families all of crew, most of whom are Italian and eastern European, either directly or through its crew manning agents.

(3:15 p.m. EST) -- Costa Allegra, which was left powerless Monday in the Indian Ocean following an engine room fire, is stable and upright.

During a Monday afternoon call with reporters, Allegra's Capt. Giorgio Moretti told the Associated Press and others that the stricken ship is being "pushed by the current" some 20 miles from Alphonse Island, one of the atolls in the Seychelles, a sprawling island chain off the coast of eastern Africa. Tugs are set to arrive on Tuesday afternoon, at which time officials will determine where to tow the ship.

According to a statement from the line, crew managed to extinguish the blaze in the electric generator room, and the fire did not spread to any other area of the ship. None of the 636 passengers -- including 127 French, 126 Italians, 31 Brits and 8 Americans -- and 413 crew was injured, said the line. "The general emergency alarm was promptly declared, and passengers and crewmembers not managing the emergency went to the muster stations," added Costa.

Though the engines are out -- along with air conditioning and lights -- communications systems are still working, said the line. The Coast Guard said emergency generators are keeping the ship's command room illuminated and its radio operating.

The ship is floating in a region prone to pirate attacks, but Italian Coast Guard Cmdr. Cosimo Nicastro told SkyTG24 TV that the focus is on rescue efforts (via the AP). Nicastro said armed anti-piracy military personnel were aboard if any issues do arise.

Costa Allegra left Madagascar on Saturday and was steaming for the Seychelles, where it was scheduled to arrive Tuesday, February 28.

--by Dan Askin, News Editor