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Cruise Liner, Cargo Ship Collide

August 24, 1999

MARGATE, England (AP) _ A cruise ship carrying more than 2,400 passengers collided with a burning cargo vessel early Tuesday off Britain’s southeast coast, coast guard officials said.

Three of the 2,400 passengers aboard the Norwegian Dream cruise ship suffered minor injuries from the collision, but remained on board until the ship docked in Dover, 40 miles from the crash site. It made the journey on its own, but its bough was smashed.

The crash occurred at 1:15 a.m. while the 40-member crew of the Panama-registered cargo ship Ever Decent fought an on-board fire in the English Channel, 20 miles off the southeast coast, the coast guard said.

Rescue efforts focused on the cargo ship, which early Tuesday sat 12 miles off the coast of Margate.

Three shipping containers that were part of the cargo on the Ever Decent were thrown onto the cruise ship by the force of the collision. Some containers fell in the water, while others 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.

A Royal Air Force plane, coast guard helicopters, five merchant ships that were sailing in the area and several lifeboats were involved in rescuing the cargo ship, while firefighters were expected to fly out to the vessel to tackle the blaze.

The crew remained on board to fight the fire, Clark said.

It was not immediately known how the collision occurred.

It was also unclear how the fire started on the 52,760-ton cargo ship or what type of cargo it was carrying.

The 41,000-ton cruise ship, built in 1992 and registered in the Bahamas, was believed to have been headed for Scandinavia when the accident happened.

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