US Coast Guard to probe cruise ship fire

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The U.S. Coast Guard said Friday that it will help investigate a cruise ship fire that killed one crew member and two contractors in the eastern Caribbean island of St. Lucia.

Officials with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board also are assisting with the investigation, which is being led by the Marshall Islands, where the cruise ship Oceania Insignia is registered.

The fire began Thursday in the engine room of the luxury ship, which was docked in St. Lucia during a 10-day cruise through the Caribbean that had been scheduled to end in Miami on Dec. 17.

A technical team is investigating to determine what went wrong in the engine room, said Victor Gonzalez, Oceania executive vice president for passenger services.

The 656 passengers who were aboard the Insignia were evacuated safely and the remainder of the cruise was cancelled. Passengers were flown back to Miami late Thursday and on Friday.

"It was an unfortunate circumstance that three people died and we're all here alive," said Jody Robinson, a passenger from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, who arrived in Miami on Friday.

The ship was built in 1998 and underwent a multimillion-dollar refurbishing earlier this year. The Insignia has 400 crew members, and its officers and staff are European.