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Anger at stricken liner 'delay'

The passengers aboard a disabled cruise ship will spend 10 to 12 hours longer at sea than needed because a French vessel towing the ship refused to give way to tugboats from the Seychelles, a Seychelles government minister says.

Joel Morgan said it was likely the Costa Allegra would have arrived in port on Wednesday night local time if the tugs had been allowed to take over.

The ship instead is now not set to arrive until mid-morning on Thursday.

Morgan, the transport minister, said the Seychelles is not happy that the financial objectives of the French vessel was put ahead of the well-being and safety of the passengers.

The stricken liner, with more than 1,000 people on board, lost power on Monday when a fire broke out in its generator room.

Gilbert Faure, the chief executive of the Seychelles' civil aviation authority, said earlier that planes are being lined up to fly the passengers back to Rome.

Mr Faure said three aircraft with seats for at least 540 passengers will depart to Rome within hours of the Costa Allegra's arrival at the Seychelles' main port, Mahe.

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