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Northern Ireland passengers on cruise ship describe 'chaos' after Argentina closes borders

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Heather and David Lynch are stuck at sea

Heather and David Lynch are stuck at sea

Group: Emma Lynch

Group: Emma Lynch

Scenes from the ship

Scenes from the ship

The Coral Princess

The Coral Princess

Heather and David Lynch are stuck at sea

Cruise ship passengers from Northern Ireland have described the "absolute chaos" after Argentina shut down its borders and barred them from stepping foot in the country as a measure to combat the coronavirus.

David and Heather Lynch, from Limavady, are stuck along with approximately 2,000 passengers on board the Coral Princess, which was on the way to Uruguay on Friday to resupply and refuel.

The couple have no idea when they will be able to fly home, or from where, their daughter, Emma, told the Belfast Telegraph.

At least one other Northern Ireland couple are on board along with some 300 other UK passengers. None of the passengers have tested positive for coronavirus.

In a message sent from on board the Princess Cruises ship, Heather Lynch reported that a meeting was held to discuss the latest developments.

Last night the cruise ship arrived at Montevideo and was able to take on supplies and fuel but no passengers were allowed to disembark.

The British Ambassador to the Argentine Republic, Mark Kent, is liaising with his counterpart in Uruguay, Ian Duddy, who reportedly will make representations to the Uruguayan government, said Mrs Lynch.

In a statement, Princess Cruises stated that the "Coral Princess was required to abruptly depart the port of Buenos Aires late on March 19, before all guests were disembarked".

Mrs Lynch said there was "absolute chaos" as some passengers who had booked flights out of Buenos Aires on Wednesday were allowed to leave and go to the airport, but then returned.

Daughter, Emma Lynch, who said her parents had planned to travel overland from Buenos Aires to Rio De Janerio, described the chaos over the last number of days, with the Argentinians at first barring the ship from docking, and finally allowing it to happen, after which the temperatures of passengers were taken.

"All of the 300 UK passengers are in the same position and they had decided together as a group that they weren't getting off the ship until they had confirmed flights and transport direct to the airport in case they were stranded."

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office did not immediately reply to a request for a statement.

The tour operators could not be contacted.

Belfast Telegraph