PAPEETE, Tahiti (AP) - A fire broke out early Sunday aboard the
luxury cruise ship "Wind Song" off the coast of French Polynesia,
forcing the evacuation of 127 passengers and 75 crew members. No
injuries were reported.
The passengers, who included U.S. tourists, and crew members
were safely transferred to a transport ship dispatched from the
Tahitian port of Tahaa, said Christian Jouve, of the prefecture in
Papeete.
Seventeen crew members stayed on board the sailing yacht to try
to extinguish the blaze, which broke out in one of the ship's
machine rooms for reasons that remain unknown, Jouve said.
"They're still fighting the fire. It was contained and then it
flared up," said Rose Abello of vessel owner Windstar Cruises in
Seattle.
The 440-foot ship's 92 crew members are from Great Britain,
Holland, Indonesia and the Philippines, she said, but she did not
know the nationalities of those still on board.
"Their safety is our focus right now," she said.
Abello said the fire broke out in the engine room at 1:30 a.m.
as the four-masted vessel cruised among the islands of Tahiti, on a
seven-day journey that began and ended in Papeete.
The ship was sailing toward Bora Bora, west of Tahiti, at the
time.
Abello said passengers and crew were taken to the nearby island
of Raiatea, and were being flown by chartered plane to Papeete. She
said the passengers would be accommodated at a hotel and
arrangements would be made for their return home.
She said passengers included 75 Americans, 19 Canadians, eight
Spaniards and five Germans.
Abello said damage to the ship has not been assessed and the
cause of the fire is not known.
Built in 1986, the "Wind Song" has four towering sails and
carries 148 passengers. The firm Windstar is a subsidiary of
Seattle-based Holland America.


(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)