Coast Guard to escort cruise ship out of PH waters after fire injures 5

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MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Coast Guard said Saturday one of its ships will accompany the MV Azamara Quest, a cruise ship where a fire broke out on Friday night,  on its way to Sandakan, Sabah.

According to a report by the PCG Action Center in Manila, five persons were injured on the ship. Four of them suffered minor bruises but the fifth, identified as Juan Carlos Rivera Escobar, of undetermined nationality, was reported to be in “unstable” condition after suffering from “neurological damage to due prolonged heat and smoke exposure.”

The PCG said it was able to establish communication with the ship at around 10 a.m. The vessel’s captain, Leif Karlsson, said that a “minor” fire broke out on the portside in the engine room at around 8 p.m. Friday night  while the vessel was in the Sulu Sea or about 75 nautical miles south of Tubbattaha Reef, Palawan.

Karlsson did not provide details of the fire but said it was already “under control.”

“The captain’s plan was to no longer have a medical evacuation for Escobar.  The five injured will be dropped off at the next port of call.  The PCG will just escort the vessel until it leaves our area of responsibility,” Ensign Paterno Belarmino of the PCG Action Center in Manila told reporters.

A United States Coast Guard official, Lt. (j.g) Christopher O’Brien, relayed a report on the incident to the PCG at around 7:15 Saturday morning.  The PCG sent three of its rescue ships to the Azamara Quest and coordinated with the Philippine Air Force and the Philippine Navy.

The Azamara Quest, owned by the Miami based Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, had 590 passengers and 411 crew.  It had come from Hong Kong and departed Pier 15 in Manila on Wednesday on its way to Sandakan.

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