Miami Cruise Ship Blast Kills at Least 2

An explosion and fire in the boiler room of a docked cruise ship killed at least two crew members Sunday and injured 20 others before the flames were extinguished, authorities said.


MIAMI (AP) -- An explosion and fire in the boiler room of a docked cruise ship killed at least two crew members Sunday and injured 20 others before the flames were extinguished, authorities said. None of the ship's more than 2,100 passengers was injured.

Coast Guard officials reported four crew members died; however, Miami-Dade County officials said only two deaths had been confirmed. There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy.

The injured crew members, 14 of them in critical condition, were taken to area hospitals, Miami-Dade Police Director Carlos Alvarez said at a news conference. He did not release further details about them.

At least 15 people with burns were brought to Jackson Memorial Hospital, said hospital spokeswoman Conchita Ruiz-Topinka.

Norwegian Cruise Line's Norway came into the Port of Miami at the end of a weeklong Caribbean cruise around 5 a.m., with 2,135 passengers and 911 crew members on board, port director Charles Towsley said. The fire began about two hours later, the result of an explosion that was likely caused by a steam leak, Alvarez said.

``So far, it looks like it was just an accident,'' said Coast Guard Petty Officer Anastasia Burns.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue workers put out the fire in about an hour. All the passengers had left the ship about three hours after the fire began, Towsley said.

Ken Hunt, 81, said he was in his cabin when he heard the explosion.

``I didn't pay any attention at first, I thought we just hit the dock. But then the lights went out,'' he said.

The evacuation went smoothly, though the passengers weren't told what was going on, Hunt said. Once off the ship, the passengers squeezed into a customs hall to wait.

The Norway was scheduled to sailing again later Sunday, but that cruise was canceled so officials could examine the damage, Norwegian Cruise Line spokeswoman Susan Robison said. Passengers on that cruise will be given a refund and voucher for another trip.

The ship was built in 1961. During Memorial Day weekend two years ago, Coast Guard inspectors discovered about 100 ``soft patches'' covering holes in fire sprinkler lines that authorities said could have failed under intense heat. The ship was held in port for a week to repair the problems.