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Archive for Friday, March 24, 2006

American man dies in fire on cruise ship

March 24, 2006

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— A fire apparently started by a cigarette broke out aboard a giant cruise ship early Thursday as it sailed through the moonlit Caribbean, leaving one passenger dead, 11 people injured and at least 100 rooms scorched.

The Star Princess, carrying 2,690 passengers and 1,123 crew members, bore evidence of the nighttime drama as it pulled into Montego Bay's port. About 85 exterior cabins were blackened from the fire, a stark contrast to the otherwise gleaming white exterior of the ship.

A smoldering cigarette is suspected as the cause of the blaze, said Horace Peterkin, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Assn., who toured the ship after it docked here.

Passengers grabbed life jackets and raced to "muster stations" after the fire started about 3 a.m., said Julie Benson, spokeswoman for Princess Cruises, which is owned by Miami-based Carnival Corp.

Richard Liffidge, 75, of Georgia, collapsed and died on deck, said Karl Angell, communications director for the Jamaican police. Benson said the passenger died after suffering cardiac arrest. But Peterkin said an autopsy would be performed to determine the cause of death.

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