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3 die in St Lucia cruise fire; passengers safe

St Lucia cruise

San Juan (US), Dec 12  A crew member and two contractors have died when a fire broke out aboard a luxury cruise ship docked at the eastern Caribbean island of St Lucia, officials said.

The 656 passengers aboard the Oceania Insignia were evacuated safely yesterday and the remainder of the cruise was cancelled, according to Oceania Cruises.

A crew member was in the hospital, said Jason Lasecki, senior director of public relations for Prestige Cruise Holdings, the parent company of Oceania Cruises.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic events that occurred this morning on Insignia,” said Lasecki, adding that passengers will be fully refunded and charter flights have been arranged to take them to Miami as well as accommodation until they can be flown to their cities of origin. Oceania’s president and other officials are in St. Lucia.

It is unclear what caused the fire, which began in the engine room and was contained. The US National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending officials to help with the investigation, which was being led by the Marshall Islands, where the ship is registered.

St Lucia police declined to comment, and the island’s fire officials could not be reached for comment.

The Insignia had departed San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Sunday for a 10-day cruise and was scheduled to arrive in Miami on December 17.

The ship was built in 1998 and underwent a multimillion-dollar refurbishing earlier this year.

It rejoined the Oceania fleet in May after operating as a charter for two years, according to Oceania. The Insignia has 400 crew members, and its officers and staff are European.

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