WELLINGTON - Cruise Liner Hits Reef, Evacuated

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Title: Cruise Liner Hits Reef, Evacuated

Story Filed: Sunday, April 30, 2000 5:38 PM EDT

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- An American-owned cruise liner with 99 passengers on board ran aground off the Solomon Islands after hitting a reef in the Pacific Ocean, the ship's owner said Monday. Nobody was injured.

Michael Lomax, president of Society Expeditions, which runs the World Discoverer out of Seattle, told New Zealand's National Radio the ship struck an uncharted coral reef 20 miles north of the Solomon's capital of Honiara on Sunday.

``The captain thought it was necessary to take the vessel and run it up onto the beach so as to safely evacuate the passengers and the crew members,'' Lomax said.

``The ship is in that position right now.''

There was no panic during the evacuation of the stricken vessel, a double-hulled ship which has been used for cruises in Antarctic waters.

All 99 passengers were taken ashore on the World Discoverer's lifeboats ``very quickly.''

A local excursion ship picked up the passengers and crew from a small island where the World Discoverer had beached and took them to Honiara, Lomax said.

``All passengers and a majority of the crew are in hotels at this time waiting for Society Expeditions to make arrangements to return them to their home cities.''

There passengers included 47 Americans, 44 Germans and eight Britons, Lomax said. The company had surveyors on the way to the scene to assess damage to the World Discoverer.

``She is on the beach for the most part, but her stern is floating,'' Lomax said, adding that no oil, gasoline or other pollutants had escaped the hull into the water.

Copyright ) 2000 Associated Press Information Services, all rights reserved.



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