The Costa Fascinosa cruise ship departed Tunis at 1:55 a.m. local time on Thursday without 13 passengers who did not return onboard before departure and who may have been victims of the terrorist attack at the city’s Bardo Museum on Wednesday.
[Update: Costa Cruises confirms that three of its passengers were killed and eight were injured in the attack, and are currently being treated in hospitals. Two passengers are unaccounted for.
“Our team in Tunis is currently taking care of the companions of the victims and the 8 guests who are being treated in hospitals,” said Michael Thamm, Ceo of Costa Group. “A further Costa management team is supporting our crew and our guests on board.”
The Costa Fascinosa, which had made the port call in Tunis, left the port early Thursday morning and was still at sea late Thursday afternoon, Thamm said.
MSC Cruises stated that its crisis team was in Tunis “to continue to provide key assistance on the ground to MSC Splendida’s guests who were involved in the tragic events and needing assistance.”
The MSC Splendida departed the port of La Goulette in Tunis at 6 a.m. on Thursday morning and was expected to arrive in Barcelona at 9 a.m. on March 20.
MSC Cruises executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago was en route to Tunis, the cruise line stated.
“As is the case every time the ship calls in Tunis, a shore excursion offered MSC Cruises’ guests the opportunity to visit the famous Bardo National Museum, the cruise line state. “During the visit at the museum, some of MSC Cruises’ guests were caught in the middle of a terrorist attack along with guests from another cruise line.”]
Cruise Critic reports that another ship, the MSC Splendida, was still preparing to depart Tunisia.
“MSC Cruises said the return of passengers to MSC Splendida is still [ongoing],” Cruise Critic reports.” As of 6 p.m. [Wednesday], it was noted that all U.S. and Canadian passengers were accounted for and safely back onboard. The company is in contact with approximately 50 countries whose nationalities were onboard in an effort to receive relevant information, it said in a statement.”
“MSC has made onboard Internet and telephone services free of charge to ensure passengers are able to contact home. The ship remains in La Goulette; a departure time has not yet been determined.
The Associated Press reports that militants seized 17 people, most of them tourists, at or near the museum in Tunisia’s capital and killed them. Five of the victims were Japanese nationals, four were from Italy, two from Colombia, two from Spain, and Australia, Poland and France each had one citizen among those killed, the AP reported. The citizenship of one of the foreign victims was not publicized.
Costa Crociere, an Italy-based Carnival Corp. brand, has been issuing updates on the situation and stated that 3,161 passengers were on board its ship, which originally was slated to depart Tunis on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
“Extra security measures are taken by local security authorities around the port to ensure the security of ship, its passengers and the crew,” the cruise line stated. “ Costa Crociere expresses its sympathy to all the people and their families involved in today’s tragic event.”
“Twelve Costa Care Team members and two Costa headquarters directors are already operative in Tunis to liaise with the local authorities and to ensure the appropriate assistance is granted. Three additional care team members will reach Tunis tomorrow morning. The company is in close contact with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, local security authorities, the captain of Costa Fascinosa and our local port agent for a continuous assessment of the situation on site and its evolution.”
Photo credit: The Costa Fascinosa on December 26, 2014. Mauro Orlando / flickr.com