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More than 500 passengers abandon burning ship off Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The US Coast Guard responded on Wednesday to a fire aboard the 561-foot passenger ferry vessel Caribbean Fantasy half a mile off of Punta Salinas, Puerto Rico.

At approximately 7:42 am on Wednesday, Coast Guard Sector San Juan received a report of a fire aboard a Panamanian-flagged passenger/cargo ship carrying 511 passengers, including crew, en route from the Dominican Republic. Initial reports indicated a manifest of 512; however, the vessel had returned to port in the Dominican Republic to disembark one passenger earlier in its voyage.

The fire, which began in the engine room, spread to other compartments on board, which led to the entire ship’s evacuation. All passengers and crewmembers were evacuated from the ship and taken to San Juan port where emergency service personnel received them for medical evaluations.

At 10:21 am the Caribbean Fantasy ran aground half a nautical mile offshore of Punta Salinas.

The Coast Guard has established a 1,000-yard safety zone around the vessel. There have so far been no reports of sheening or pollution around the vessel.

Multiple Coast Guard surface and air assets were committed to the response effort and worked with local Puerto Rican marine police, fire, pilot and commercial tug boats from the port, as well as the Puerto Rico Joint Forces of Action (FURA), Customs and Border Protection marine units and good Samaritans to effect the rescue.

A Unified Command comprised of federal, state and industry agencies and organizations has been established at Coast Guard Sector San Juan to manage the incident and salvage efforts of the Caribbean Fantasy.

The fire is just the latest setback for Caribbean Fantasy, which has been plagued over the past few years with multiple substandard cleanliness ratings from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in addition to having one of its ferries busted for carrying drugs.

In March 2015, federal law enforcement found $46,000 worth of heroin hidden in a van on a Caribbean Fantasy ferry traveling from the Dominican Republic.

In May 2013, the Caribbean Fantasy ferry was given a failing grade by the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program (CDC VSP). Nearly two years later, in April 2015, the Caribbean Fantasy failed an additional CDC VSP inspection.

Source: Caribbean News Now

Aug 17, 2016

Category: DR News |

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Last updated October 22, 2016 at 2:00 PM
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