Lifestyle & Belief

Philippines: Cruise ship fire on Azamara Quest leaves hundreds of tourists adrift


German tourists disembark from cruiseship M/V Astor shortly after arriving in Zamboanga city, southern Philippines, on March 5, 2007.



A luxury cruise ship carrying hundreds of mostly German and American tourists is returning to the port of Sandakan in Malaysia after an engine room fire injured five crew members and left the ship without propulsion for several hours.

The cruise was canceled and the ship is headed for repairs, The Guardian reported.

"It seems the fire may have been contained to the engine room, and that most people were not even aware of it happening," English travel agent Jeremy Scott told The Guardian. "They were simply told to gather at evacuation points as a precaution. Most of the people on board have been on a few cruises before, so they are not likely to panic much."

The Azamara Quest fire started late Friday, a day after the ship left Manila for Sandakan in Borneo, Malaysia, the Associated Press reported. The vessel has been left adrift in the Sulu Sea. 

The fire broke out in one of the ship's engine rooms and was quickly extinguished. Five crew suffered smoke inhalation, one of them seriously and requiring urgent medical attention in a hospital.

The ship, operated by Azamara Club Cruises, is said to be carrying 590 passengers and 411 crew members. No passengers were injured in the fire, the company said in a statement, according to the AP.

More from GlobalPost: Italy, bravado and the Costa Concordia

As a precaution, the captain asked all passengers to prepare to leave the ship, but it was deemed not necessary.

Travelers paid almost $4,000 each for the trip, according to The Guardian. 

In a statement on its website, Azamara Club Cruises said that engineers onboard the ship were working to restore propulsion. The ship was to continue on its journey to Malaysia, after which point the rest of the cruise will be canceled. 

There have been several high-profile cruise ship incidents this year. In January, the Costa Concordia capsized off the coast of Italy, killing 32 people.

Agence France-Presse reported that the Azamara Quest left Hong Kong on Monday for a 17-night voyage. The ship had been due to make port calls on Balikpapan, Palapo, Benoa Bali, Semarang and Komodo in Indonesia before ending its journey in Singapore, AFP said.

Two Philippine coast guard vessels and a patrol boat were headed for the Azamara Quest and were expected to reach it late Saturday, the AP said.

More from GlobalPost: Costa Concordia: five more bodies found in wreck