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Dozens Injured When Cruise Ship Tips

Jul 18, 2006 | CNN

A cruise ship listed sharply off Port Canaveral, Florida, injuring at least 37 passengers, one critically, according to the Cape Canaveral Fire Department.

Two victims were airlifted to local hospitals, according to paramedics that the Coast Guard transported to the ship as it returned to port. Ten ambulances, three helicopters, four buses and mass-casualty trailers were awaiting its return from the Atlantic Ocean.

Paramedics at the port said they were prepared to care for up to 100 passengers.

The critically injured passenger was a child. The child and one parent will be taken by helicopter to either Orlando or Melbourne, said Brevard County emergency management spokesman Bob Lay.

At least six passengers were seriously injured, the Cape Canaveral Fire Department said.

Rosalyn Postel, spokeswoman for port, said some passengers suffered broken bones, but she did not know the extent of other injuries. Princess Cruise Lines, which operates the Crown Princess, said in a statement that there were "numerous reports" of cuts, bruises and fractures.

The New York-bound ship developed a problem with its rudder, causing it to take a "heavy roll," listing hard to one side about two hours after its departure from Port Canaveral, the Coast Guard said.

Passenger Carol O'Connell told a Miami, Florida, television station that she saw flooding, overturned tables and broken glass everywhere, according to The Associated Press.

"There were people running for life jackets, and then afterward a lot of people hugging and crying, people looking for children," O'Connell told WTVJ-TV by phone. "The captain sounded so terrified, which led to my feeling of more panic."

Princess Cruise Lines said in a statement that the incident occurred at about 3:40 p.m. ET

"The ship is safe and seaworthy, and we are currently investigating the cause of the list," the statement said. "We are currently assessing the full extent of passenger injuries and have returned the ship to Port Canaveral to transfer the more seriously affected passengers to a medical facility ashore."

The statement also said that while the cause of the problem was unknown, "the watertight integrity of the ship has not been compromised, and it is safe for passengers to remain onboard while the ship is alongside in Port Canaveral."

The Crown Princess was on a nine-day Western Caribbean excursion out of New York, having made stops at Grand Turk, Ocho Rios, on Jamaica, and Grand Cayman Island. Port Canaveral was its last port of call before returning to New York.

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