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Cruise Liner Holed in Red Sea; Nobody Reported Hurt

April 5, 1996

LONDON (AP) _ The owners of a British cruise liner that began taking on water after striking a reef in the Red Sea were arranging to evacuate 950 passengers today.

``The passengers are safe and the damage won’t sink the ship,″ said Issam Qawar, director for the Cunard line in the Jordanian port of Aqaba.

He said the Royal Viking Sun hit a coral reef in the Strait of Tiran, 95 miles from Aqaba on Thursday night.

``The shock punched a hole in the vessel and water damaged the machines and the lights,″ he said.

Another Cunard spokesman, Peter Bates, said the company planned to use a high-speed catamaran with a capacity of 350 passengers to remove people from the ship.

The office of Gen. Sanaa Kamal, head of Red Sea port operations, told reporters that Egyptian navy vessels, a search and rescue squad and oil field service boats had been dispatched to assist if needed.

Lloyd’s of London shipping intelligence unit said the cruise ship began taking on water and listing after hitting something underwater. Pumps expelled the water and put the ship back on an even keel, it said.

It said the collision at the northern end of the Red sea near the Gulf of Aqaba separating Egypt and Saudi Arabia left the 37,845-ton liner without main engine power.

It said the vessel cast anchor to await the arrival of two tugboats from Aqaba.

The ship is owned Cunard Line Ltd. It was on a round-the-world cruise that began in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in January and was due to end there on April 29.

Cunard spokeswoman Priscilla Hoye, speaking from the company’s New York office, said a back-up generator was switched on after the collision to provided light and to power equipment aboard the ship. She said the weather in the area was calm and warm.

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