Officials say 2 dead, 6 injured when 26-foot wave hits cruise ship in Mediterranean off France

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Huge waves kills 2 on cruise ship in Mediterranean

ATHENS, Greece — A 26-foot wave smashed into a cruise ship carrying nearly 2,000 people in the Mediterranean on Wednesday, smashing glass windshields and killing two passengers, according to officials and news reports.

Another six people suffered light injuries, the Greek coast guard said in a statement. The victims were identified as a German and an Italian man.

It was unclear late Wednesday exactly where the incident took place. The Greek coast guard said the accident occurred near the French Mediterranean port of Marseille as the Cypriot-owned Louis Majesty was sailing from Barcelona to the Italian city of Genoa with 1,350 passengers and 580 crew members on board.

But the French newspaper Le Figaro said the accident happened off Capo de Begur, off the coast of Spain about 80 miles northeast of Barcelona. A spokesman for the cruise line said the ship was returning to Barcelona.

Cmdr. Bernard Celier of the French maritime authority in the southwestern city of Toulon, on the Mediterranean coast, said there had been “no signs of the least problem with the Louis Majesty.”

But he noted there had been winds of over 100 kilometers per hour (60 miles per hour) in the area.

A spokeswoman for the port in Barcelona said the Louis Majesty was expected to return to the port, where the bodies would be removed and the injured treated. She said the ship had asked permission to make an emergency docking in Barcelona after it was hit by the wave.

Louis Cruise Lines spokesman Michael Maratheftis said the ship was hit by three “abnormally high” waves up to 26 feet (8 meters) high that broke glass windshields in the forward section.

Louis Cruise Lines’ Web site says the ship is 207 meters (680 feet) long, and features 10 passenger decks and 732 staterooms along with various bars, pools, restaurants and shops.

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