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LONDON-The Cyprus Department of Merchant Shipping will investigate the fire that began Oct. 4 on board the Cyprus-registered cruise liner Romantica.
All 667 passengers and crew were evacuated without serious injury, but the inquiry will examine passenger claims that the ship, built in 1939, had inadequate fire detection and warning systems, insufficient fire fighting equipment and faulty lifeboat launching mechanisms.
The fire burned for several days. Though the Romantica did not sink, it is unlikely to be put back into passenger service. Hull insurance for $4 million was placed in the London market and liability coverage was written by the Newcastle Protection & Indemnity Assn.
One of the world's major ship classification societies, Lloyd's Register of Shipping, spent two months carrying out "extensive" surveys of Romantica's hull and machinery as well as passenger ship safety surveys earlier this year. These surveys included examination of the operation of fire safety systems and lifeboats, and a Lloyd's Register spokesman said the ship "was fully in order as far as we're concerned."
However, Cyprus had given Romantica's owners, Med Duchess Lines of Cyprus, a three-month extension to comply with new stricter international maritime fire safety regulations that went into effect this month under the Safety of Life at Sea convention (BI, Aug. 18). The convention, put together by the London-based International Maritime Organization, part of the United Nations, applies to signatories, of which Cyprus is one.
Lloyd's Register has offered to help Cyprus with its investigation into the fire.