Italian cruise ship fends off pirates (Lead)

April 26th, 2009 - 6:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Hamburg/Rome, April 26 (DPA) An Italian cruise ship carrying 1,500 passengers and crew was able to fend off a pirate attack off the coast of Somalia, the German subsidiary of Italian MSC Crociere confirmed Sunday.
The ship was attacked at around 2035 Somali time (1735 GMT) Saturday evening by armed pirates firing shots from a small speedboat, 330 km from the Seychelles where it had last anchored.

The captain was able to outmanoeuvre the attackers, a spokeswoman for MSC Cruises in Munich said. None of the 1,000 passengers and 500 crew was injured.

Initial reports of the attack came from a German passenger, who phoned Hamburg-based Spiegel news magazine.

“During a show on board, shots were suddenly being fired,” the passenger said.

The passenger heard repeated gunfire, while other guests saw a white speed boat following the cruise ship.

International marine organisations have provided a military ship to escort the MSC Melody, which has continued its scheduled journey to Aqaba in Jordan, the cruise operator said.

The final destination of the cruise, en route from South Africa, is the Italian city of Genoa.

MSC Crociere, based in Naples, offers cruises to passengers from around the world.

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