NAIROBI, Kenya -- An Italian cruise liner carrying more than 1,000 people was adrift without power in the pirate-infested Indian Ocean yesterday after a fire erupted in its generator room. The blaze was extinguished without causing any injuries, officials said.
Two tugboats from the island nation of Seychelles were steaming toward the drifting Costa Allegra, which had 636 passengers and 413 crew members on board.
Italian Coast Guard officials said a large French fishing boat could be the first vessel to reach the stricken liner.
The fire on the Costa Allegra immediately raised fears, coming only six weeks after one of its sister ships, the Costa Concordia, hit a reef off Italy, killing 25 people and leaving seven missing and presumed dead. Both ships are operated by Costa Crociere SpA, which is owned by the Florida-based Carnival Corp.
Company officials rushed to play down concerns.
The Costa Allegra is adrift "and being pushed by the current. It is stable and upright," Giorgio Moretti, the director of nautical operations for Costa Crociere SpA, told reporters in a conference call from company headquarters in Genoa.
The cause of the fire was under investigation, Moretti said. The fire knocked out power to the ship's engines as well as to its lights and air conditioning.
The Coast Guard officials said emergency generators were keeping communications equipment running. The Allegra had left northern Madagascar, off Africa's southeast coast, on Saturday and was cruising toward the port of Victoria, capital of the Seychelles, when the fire erupted.
The general region where the cruise ship was adrift, off the coast of Tanzania, has seen a rash of attacks by Somali pirates. In 2009, an Italian cruise ship with 1,500 people aboard fended off a pirate attack in the Indian Ocean, far off the coast of Somalia.