Rescuers have mounted efforts to aid the cruise ship Costa Allegra, adrift without power in the Indian Ocean. The vessel comes from the same fleet as the tragedy-stricken Costa Concordia that capsized in January.
Two French tugs and a trawler reached the stricken Italian Costa Allegra cruise liner on Tuesday and began towing it to the main Seychelles island. The sister ship of the Costa Concordia, which ran aground in January claiming at least 25 lives, was left adrift in the Indian Ocean on Monday with some 1,049 people onboard.
Seychellois authorities said they had been preparing to evacuate the ship on the island of Desroches, 240 kilometers (150 miles) southwest of the country's main island of Mahe. However, inadequate facilities on the tiny island meant the rescue course was altered and the vessel is now expected to reach Mahe on Thursday.
The ship, which is reported to have 636 passengers and 413 crew members on board, was left adrift without power on Monday after a fire broke out in its generator room. The blaze - which caused no injuries - was extinguished, but a mayday call had to be made to seek help from nearby vessels.
The Costa Allegra left Antsiranana, Madagascar, on Saturday.
Ship is 'stable and upright'
A team of managers and engineers was on its way to the vessel, according to officials from the Italian cruise company Costa Crociere - which also operated the tragedy-stricken Costa Concordia. Twenty-five people have been certified dead since that vessel capsized off the Italian coast in January, while seven others are still listed as missing.
Director of nautical operations for Costa Crociere, Giorgio Moretti, told reporters that the ship was "being pushed by the current. It is stable and upright," said Moretti.
A series of pirate attacks have taken place in the eastern Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa in recent years, including a failed attempt to seize an Italian cruise vessel in 2009. However, Moretti said the ship was not in a high risk area, adding that armed guards were on board to respond to any attack.
ccp, acb/ncy (AFP, AP, dpa)