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Passengers tell of ordeal on ship

Passengers on board a cruise ship which finally limped into port in California after three days adrift on the Pacific have told of their ordeal.

The 4,500 passengers and crew trickled off the Carnival Splendor after the luxury liner was pulled by six tugboats into San Diego on Thursday afternoon.

The ship had been left powerless, unable to steer or propel itself since a fire ripped through its engine room on Monday while it was off the Mexican coast.

The first of the 3,300 passengers walked down a ramp about an hour later, dragging suitcases into a tent on the dock.

"I love being back on land," said passenger Ken King. He added: "The staff were excellent. Only a few people on board were rude. The food was horrible. Starting at 5am on Monday, we didn't have toilets for 13 hours," he said.

"It's been like a nightmare," said fellow passenger Fahizah Alim. "There's been no food, no power, no electricity, no flushing toilets. I spent the night tossing and turning in my cabin in the dark."

The ship left Long Beach, California, on Sunday for a seven-day trip to the Mexican Riviera but was left stricken 24 hours later and never reached the beaches holidaymakers had hoped for.

The fire knocked out power, leaving passengers with no air conditioning, no hot food, no hot water and none of the facilities the ship usually has to offer.

Aboard the ship, queues for the limited supplies of food stretched for hours, with what was on offer only available after US Navy helicopters flew in Spam, Pop Tarts and canned crab meat.

After the cruise liner docked, the National Transportation Safety Board said a probe into the fire would be conducted by Panama, assisted by two NTSB experts.

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