German cruise ship catches fire off Norway: rescuers

23rd May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Rescuers evacuated around 600 tourists and crew from a German cruise ship docked in a Norwegian fjord Sunday after its engine room caught fire, emergency services said.

"There is a fire onboard the MS Deutschland. It originated in the engine room (and) has entailed such a heat development that it has been necessary to evacuate almost everyone from the ship to land," Per Fjeld, the regional rescue service spokesman, told AFP.

"We have so far not received reports of any injuries," he added.

When the fire broke out at around noon (1000 GMT), 607 people were onboard including 364 passengers, 334 of them German, 241 crew members and two Norwegian pilots, Fjeld said

Other passengers included citizens of Australia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel and Japan.

"I have just heard that all the passengers are on land," he said slightly before 1400 GMT, adding that some essential crew had remained onboard, where firefighters were busy battling the blaze.

The German cruise ship was docked deep in the picturesque Hardanger Fjord, at the port of the small town of Eidfjord, not far from Norway's second largest city Bergen on the west coast.

"We are using pumps and hoses to try to cool down the hull," Fjeld said, adding that it was too early to say how much damage the ship had suffered.

© 2010 AFP

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