100 Britons caught in yet another cruise ship drama

Passengers endure hours of anxiety as boat drifts without power after fire breaks out on board

More than a 1,000 people, including 100 Britons, were involved in yet another high seas drama yesterday as a cruise ship was disabled and left to drift south of the Philippines after a fire on board. This is the latest mishap to befall an industry that has suffered a series of high-profile blows since mid-January, when the Costa Concordia capsized off the coast of Italy with the loss of more than 30 lives.

Further calamities followed in February when, during one weekend, three US cruise liners were forced back to port by outbreaks of the norovirus stomach bug. In the same month, a fire on the Costra Allegra left that ship without power and adrift for three days in the Indian Ocean in waters known to be prowled by pirates. And just two days ago, a Carnival Corp cruise ship was ordered to be held in a Texas port by a US judge in a $10m (£6.2m) lawsuit filed by the family of a German tourist who died aboard the Concordia.

In yesterday's incident, the luxury Azamara Quest had been on its way to Sandakan, in the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah, when an engine room fire knocked out its power and left it adrift on the South China Sea.

The cruise liner had left Hong Kong on Monday for what was supposed to be a 17-day South-east Asian cruise. It was scheduled to make several stops in Indonesia, before arriving in Singapore on 12 April.

The ship had left Manila following a port stop on Thursday and was at sea when the fire broke out on Friday night. Flames engulfed one of the ship's engine rooms but were quickly extinguished. Five of the 411 crew members suffered smoke inhalation during the incident; one suffered prolonged heat and smoke exposure and was in a serious condition, said senior physician, Oliver Gilles.

But all 590 passengers – 100 of whom are British and one from Ireland – escaped unharmed. The stricken Azamara was eventually reached by rescue vessels yesterday afternoon. Engineers were able to restore electricity to re-establish the air conditioning, running water, plumbing, refrigeration and cooking facilities. Algier Ricafrente, a spokesman for the Philippines coastguard, said the engines had been repaired, power restored, and the ship had begun moving slowly towards Sandakan.

Among the British passengers on board were the parents of Sarah Robinson, 38, from Manchester. She received a call from her 75-year-old father and mother, 65, the morning after the accident assuring her they were unhurt. Ms Robinson said: "Dad came on the phone and he said 'Everything is fine. We're adrift in the South China Sea and we're not sure when we'll be back. We were having a gin and tonic in the cabin before dinner when the lights went out then a voice came over the Tannoy to say there'd been a fire but it was under control'.

"Then my mum came on the phone and said the crew had been amazing and were looking after them well."

Ms Robinson said the couple had already been offered a full refund and another holiday free of charge from Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, the firm that owns the Azamara. The company said in a statement: "On Friday, 30 March, at approximately 8.19pm ship time, Azamara Quest experienced a fire in the engine room. The fire was contained to the engine room and was quickly extinguished. However, in an abundance of caution, the captain initially mustered all guests at their assembly stations. The ship is currently running on generator power until full power can be restored to the engine room."

Royal Caribbean Cruises confirmed that the rest of the ship's voyage would be cancelled.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
peopleGerman paper published pictures of 18-month-old daughter
Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicKate Bush set to re-enter album charts after first conerts in 35 years
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams' life story will be told in a biography written by a New York Times reporter
arts + ents
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
peopleJustin Bieber accuses paparazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Merger and Acquisition Project Manager

£500 - £550 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 - £55 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN TAWe are looking to recrui...

Technical Manager – Heat Pumps

£40000 Per Annum dependent on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: They ...

Test Job

TBC: Test Recruiter for iJobs: Job London (Greater)

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis