MONTEVIDEO – The roughly 1,400 passengers aboard a crippled cruise ship were evacuated on Friday to the Atlantic resort town of Punta del Este, Uruguayan authorities said.
They said the evacuation was carried out in the wee hours after the crew of the Italian-flagged Costa Romantica determined that a fire two days earlier in the ship's engine room had done more damage than initially thought.
Argentines and Brazilians made up the majority of the passengers on the luxury cruise ship.
The Costa Romantica was seven miles from Punta del Este at the time of the fire and managed to maneuver toward the bay using backup generators.
The cruise operator, Costa Cruceros, said anxiety among the passengers prompted the decision to evacuate them and a good part of the crew of 550.
Built in 1993, the Costa Romantica underwent extensive renovations after 10 years in service. The ship can carry up to 1,779 passengers, Montevideo daily El Pais said Friday on its Web site. EFE