A cruise ship fire in Puerto Rico forced the evacuation of 512 passengers and 26 crew members. Although nobody was immediately killed in the massive blaze, officials confirmed hundreds of passengers were treated for minor injuries and medical issues related to smoke inhalation.
The Caribbean Fantasy, which is described as “a combination cruise and ferry vessel,” makes three trips between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico each week.
Although the trip lasts 12 hours or less, the Caribbean Fantasy has seven levels, which include 140 private cabins, a casino, a nightclub, a piano bar, a swimming pool, and various shops.
— Newstalk (@NewstalkFM) August 17, 2016
As reported by NBC News, officials confirmed the cruise ship was approximately one mile off the Puerto Rico coast, near San Juan, when the devastating fire occurred.
— KUTV 2News (@KUTV2News) August 17, 2016
At this time, authorities believe the blaze started in the cruise ship’s engine room. The incident is being blamed on a fuel line, which burst and caught fire. Unfortunately, the flames quickly spread to other parts of the ship.
The United States Coast Guard was immediately dispatched to the Puerto Rico cruise ship fire, where more than 500 passengers 26 crew members were evacuated.
Los Angeles Times reports more than 200 people were injured in the massive blaze. Although a majority of passengers and crew members were treated for illness related to smoke and heat produced by the fire, including dehydration and heat stroke, Puerto Rico health secretary Ana Rius confirmed at least eight people were treated for broken bones.
At this time, officials believe 10 people remain hospitalized with injuries related to the cruise ship fire.
Authorities confirmed the passengers, which were primarily residents of the Dominican Republic, included several dozen children and teens. According to reports, the school children were traveling to Puerto Rico for a variety of sports competitions.
Mechanic Marlon Doblado, who was in the engine room when the blaze began, said he and several others spent approximately two hours trying to extinguish the fire before fleeing to safety.
According to the latest reports, fire officials are now aboard the Puerto Rico cruise ship battling the fire. ABC News reports the blaze is still burning out of control.
Although numerous civilians arrived on scene, in boats, to assist with the evacuations and extinguishing the fire, Puerto Rico’s Emergency Management Agency director Algel Crespo said they are not being allowed to board the vessel, as “The boat’s systems have collapsed… It’s not safe anymore to work inside the boat.”
Fortunately, nobody was immediately killed in the cruise ship fire in Puerto Rico. However, according to CruiseShipDeaths.com, nine people have died in cruise ship fires since 1934.
Earlier this year, Omaha, Nebraska, natives Cristy Jenis Hammer, 72, and Larry Morris Hammer, 74, were killed in a fire aboard the International Expeditions’ Estrella Amazonica.
According to reports, the couple was enjoying the Amazon River cruise when an electrical fire broke out aboard the cruise ship. As they were unable to flee their cabin, the couple succumbed to smoke inhalation.
In 2013, a fire in the engine room of Carnival’s Triumph did not cause any immediate deaths or serious injuries. However, an estimated 4,200 passengers were stranded on the ship for five days as it drifted aimlessly throughout the Gulf of Mexico.
As the fire shut down the cruise ship’s air-conditioning and sewage systems, the passengers were exposed to excessive heat and dangerous raw sewage. The passengers also reported food was in short supply.
According to the New York Times, fires aboard cruise ships are disturbingly common. Between 1990 and 2011, a total of 79 fires were reported aboard cruise ships. However, loss of power and plumbing problems seem to be far more likely.
Memorial University of Newfoundland professor Ross A. Klein, who is considered to be “an authority on the cruise industry,” said although inconveniences are not uncommon, serious injuries and death aboard cruise ships are unlikely.
The cruise ship fire in Puerto Rico is still burning. However, the passengers and crew were evacuated from the ship with few serious injuries. The condition of those who were hospitalized has not been released at this time.
[Image via Ruther Peterkin/Shutterstock]