Passengers on disabled cruise ship to fly to Rome

By FRANCES D'EMILIO and JASON STRAZIUSO | February 29, 2012 | 3:06 AM EST

In this photo taken Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012 by Zil Air and released by the Seychelles Office of the President, the Costa Allegra cruise ship is seen at sea near the Seychelles. Disabled by an engine fire, the cruise ship is being towed and should reach land Thursday, according to a spokesman for Costa Cruises. (AP Photo/Zil Air via Seychelles Office of the President)

VICTORIA, Seychelles (AP) — An aviation official in Seychelles says that a disabled cruise ship being towed to the island nation's main port is expected just after dawn on Thursday.

Gilbert Faure, the chief executive of the Seychelles' civil aviation authority, said Wednesday that planes are being lined up to fly the passengers of the disabled cruise ship Costa Allegra with over 1000 people on board back to Rome almost immediately after arriving in port between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. (0200 to 0300 GMT) Thursday.

Faure said three aircraft with seats for at least 540 passengers will depart to Rome within hours of the Costa Allegra's arrival at the Seychelles' main port. The Costa Allegra lost power on Monday after a fire broke out in its generator room.