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Cruise Liner, Cargo Ship Collide

August 24, 1999

MARGATE, England (AP) _ A Norwegian Cruise liner collided with a cargo ship on its way back from a 13-day tour of the Scandinavian capitals. At least 20 passengers suffered minor injuries.

The cruise ship bound for Dover pulled into the port on schedule, Norwegian Cruise Line President Geir Aune said. The 1,726 passengers, most Americans, had breakfast on board before disembarking to return home.

``When I heard the bang, I really pictured another Titanic and started running to the deck,″ said passenger Arielle Adelman, 16, from New York City. ``It was really scary. There was a loud bang. I was walking down the hall and fell over. The ship started shaking and things started falling.″

The crash smashed the bow of the cruise ship, called the Norwegian Dream, but the boat made the 40-mile trip to Dover on its own and arrived safely. The injured passengers remained on board until the ship docked.

``A few people went to the doctor’s office to check for minor scratches, but it was nothing serious,″ Aune said.

Rescue efforts were focused on the Panama-registered cargo ship Ever Decent, which was adrift outside shipping lanes 12 miles off the coast of Margate in southeast England. Its 40 crew members battled a fire that broke out as a result of the crash.

Pollution experts were on alert. Some of the cargo containers held hazardous material, but the pollution risk was considered minimal, coast guard spokeswoman Joanne Groenenberg said.

The crash happened at 1:15 a.m. in a part of the English Channel known as Falls Bank, 20 miles from Margate, the coast guard said.

It was unclear why the two ships collided. Weather conditions at the time of the crash were not hazardous, the coast guard said.

The force of the collision threw three shipping containers from the deck of the Ever Decent onto the 41,000-ton cruiser. Other containers fell into the water, while several more caught fire, said coast guard spokesman Mark Clark.

The cargo ship started to take on water and began leaning to one side, but later recovered and regained an upright position. It then headed toward shallow water to run aground, apparently to make it easier for a rescue and to fight the blaze.

Cruise ship passenger Bob Gedan, 62, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who was traveling with his wife Winnie, 61, said there were some anxious moments among passengers but never any panic.

``Most people were asleep at the time. The TV fell off onto our bed and woke my wife up,″ he said.

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