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UK passengers describe ship ordeal

British passengers have spoken of the awful conditions on board after they finally disembarked from the stricken cruise ship Costa Allegra.

A fire on the Italian vessel in the Indian Ocean on Monday left it without power and needing to be towed to the Seychelles where the ship arrived on Thursday morning.

The 31 Britons among the 627 passengers had to contend with no lights, no air conditioning, toilets that would not flush and very basic provisions, with some surviving on a bread-and-salami diet.

The ship is part of the Costa Cruises fleet including the Costa Concordia, which hit rocks and turned on its side off the coast of Italy in January, claiming 32 lives.

Looking tired and dishevelled, passengers on the Costa Allegra finally stepped on to dry land to be met by travel agents, the Red Cross and Seychelles island officials.

"There was no power at all," British passenger Derek Adams told the BBC. "The loos packed up. They just filled up and were smelling more and more. There were no lights. It was OK for those with portholes, but elsewhere it was pitch black."

Some of the Britons will be staying on in the Seychelles at Costa Cruises' expense, while others will join other passengers on flights to various European cities where they will get connections home.

British High Commissioner Matthew Forbes, who was among those meeting the ship, told the BBC: "I think everyone is OK now and looking forward to having a little comfort for a few days."

One passenger told how she had existed on white bread and salami "morning, noon and evening". Speaking to BBC News, she went on: "Believe me, I don't want to see another salami for a long time."

She said passengers had been sunbathing on deck when suddenly there was "terrible black" smoke and passengers had got their lifejackets and assembled at their muster stations. The passenger said things were "not very well organised to start with" but later on, everything had been fine.


From Belfast Telegraph