Stranded Passengers Being Flown Home With AM-Hijacking, Bjt
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) _ Hundreds of passengers who were stranded when the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cut short their Mediterranean cruise left Israel on Saturday to return home.
Some of the 50 Americans in the group left Saturday. The rest were scheduled to fly to New York City on Sunday morning.
The 550 passengers were on a shore excursion when the Italian luxury liner was hijacked last Monday night. They were initially flown to Rome. On Thursday they arrived in Tel Aviv to await the ship’s arrival at the port of Ashdod.
The cruise was finally canceled Saturday because of continued refusal by Egyptian authorities to give the Achille Lauro permission to sail from Port Said, where the liner was anchored since the hijacking ended Wednesday.
Most of the passengers were flown to Rome, to make connecting flights to their homes in West Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain and South America. Austrian passengers arranged to fly directly to Vienna.
All the passengers were separated from their luggage and valuables when they left ship in Egypt. Many complained they were left without a change of clothes, money and medications.
Capt. Fausto Vignali, managing director of the Lauro shipping company that owns the liner, said that once the ship returns to Genoa, Italy, the luggage would be collected from all the cabins and sent to its owners.
He said the hijacking and the ship’s subsequent delay had cost the Lauro company ″a fortune, more than $1 million so far.″
Awaiting the ship’s arrival in Tel Aviv, Vignali also said that most of the passengers had been understanding despite their frustration and impatience.
″What can you do?″ asked Mrs. Magdalena Szirtes of Zurich, Switzerland as she prepared to board the flight to Rome. ″All we want is to get home. We have no clothes, no money and we would like our luggage back if it hasn’t been stolen.″