ROME ? A cruise liner owned by the same company as the Costa Concordia, which ran aground off Italy last month, is cloaked in darkness and adrift in the Indian Ocean on Monday after a fire in the engine room left it without power.
The fire on the Costa Allegra was quickly extinguished and "there were no injuries or casualties," said Costa Cruises in a statement. However, the ship is stranded about 200 miles southwest of the Seychelles, an area where Somali pirates have been active.
Costa Cruises, which is based in Genoa, Italy, said in a statement that its ship was about 20 miles from Alphonse Island, one of the atolls in the Seychelles, a nation of islands and atolls that is a popular tourist destination.
The general region where the cruise ship was adrift ? off the coast of Tanzania ? has seen a rash of attacks by Somali pirates, but they have never hijacked a cruise ship.
A Seychelles official said armed guards are on board the cruise ship. She said that is standard practice for cruise ships "these days."
"If pirates attack, the armed guards on board will respond. But as far as I am aware, no pirates have been sighted in the area," said Seychelles presidential spokeswoman Srdjana Janosevic.
The Costa Allegra has 636 passengers and 413 crew on board. Crew were working to "restore functionality" to the ship and tugs and other support vessels were on their way to offer assistance, Costa Cruises said.
The accident aboard the Costa Allegra occurred about six weeks after the Costa Concordia ran aground off the Italian island of Giglio on Jan. 13, killing at least 25 people. Seven passengers remain missing. The ship's captain was arrested and several other officials were placed under investigation.
On Monday, Italian coast guard officials dispatched cargo ships near the Costa Allegra to help. Tug boats from the island nation of Seychelles also were steaming to the powerless ship. But the tugs were not expected to reach it until Tuesday afternoon at the earliest, and a top Seychelles military official said he could not yet say when the cruise ship might be brought back to port.
The Seychelles coast guard and air wing mobilized, and an aircraft was flying over the ship late Monday evening, said Janosevic.
"And there are fishing vessels in the vicinity, large ones, that are going to provide support as well," Janosevic said. "They have assistance coming to them.'"
The Allegra had left northern Madagascar, off Africa's southeast coast, on Saturday and was cruising toward the port of Victoria, Seychelles' capital, when the fire erupted. Costa said the Allegra had been due in Victoria on Tuesday.
The Allegra was built in Italian shipyards in 1992, is 615-feet long, has eight passenger decks and 399 cabins.