The British captain of a cruise ship that failed to rescue three stricken Panamanian fishermen is said to be devastated by accusations that he ignored calls for their rescue. Two of the three men on the drifting fishing boat later died of dehydration – one within hours of Star Princess passengers attempting to raise the alarm after spotting the lost boat.
Princess Cruises, the operator of the ship, blamed a “breakdown in communications” for the tragedy. The cruise line, which is owned by Carnival, the same corporation behind the operators of the Costa Concordia which sank this year, said investigations were still trying to establish the exact circumstances of the incident. However, Princess cruises said passengers’ reports that they had spotted a boat in distress never made it to Captain Edward Perrin or the officer on duty.
“Princess Cruises deeply regrets that two Panamanian men perished at sea after their boat became disabled in early March,” a statement said. “We all understand that it is our responsibility and also the law of the sea to provide assistance to any vessel in distress, and it is not an uncommon occurrence for our ships to be involved in a rescue at sea. In fact, we have done so more than 30 times in the last 10 years. We deeply regret this incident and are continuing our investigation to fully understand the circumstances.”
The story of Adrian Vasquez, the 18-year-old hotel worker who survived for 28 days adrift in the Pacific Ocean, was a global news story after his rescue near the Galapagos Islands. But it emerged that the fishing boat, the Fifty Cents, had been spotted on March 10 by three birdwatchers on the Star Princess, but it failed to stop. Later the same night, Oropeces Betancourt, 24, died of dehydration. The youngest fisherman, Fernando Osorio, 16, died on March 15, suffering from dehydration, sunburn and heat stroke.
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