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Last Updated: Saturday, 5 November 2005, 19:19 GMT
Passengers tell of 'pirate' attack
Seabourn Spirit
Passengers said rocket-propelled grenades hit the ship
Passengers onboard the cruise liner attacked in the Indian Ocean by alleged Somali pirates have told the BBC of their ordeal.

Edith Laird, from Seattle in the US, told the BBC News website she was only four rooms away from where a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) hit the Seabourn Spirit, about 100 miles (160km) from the Somali coast.

"My daughter saw the pirates out of our window. There were at least three RPGs that hit the ship, one in a stateroom four doors down from our cabin.

"Our captain, Sven Erik Pedersen, and the rest of his crew did a wonderful and amazing job getting us out of the area as fast as possible. We had no idea that this ship could move as fast as it did! And he did his best to run down the pirates."

One of the rockets certainly hit the ship - it went through the side of the liner into a passenger's suite.
Passenger Norman Fisher

Solicitor Norman Fisher, 55, from Hampstead Garden Suburb in north London, said: "I was awake doing some work when I heard what sounded like a crack from outside at 0550.

"I looked out of the window and saw a small boat with about five people in it about 20 yards (20m) away.

"One of them clearly had a rifle. Later I realised that two of them had rifles and one had some kind of rocket launcher.

"They were firing the rifle and then fired the rocket launcher twice. One of the rockets certainly hit the ship - it went through the side of the liner into a passenger's suite. The couple were in there at the time so it was a bit of an unpleasant experience.

'A bit scared'

"Fortunately they weren't hurt but you can just imagine what it would have been like if they had been standing up because obviously the cabin was very badly damaged.

"I only saw one boat, although the captain said there were two. At first I didn't know what was going on, but when I saw the rocket launcher I started getting a bit scared."

Mr Fisher said the cruise liner's captain made an announcement about 15 minutes later, saying: "Stay inside, stay inside, we are under attack".

"Then he told us to go the restaurant in the middle of the ship and wait.

"The atmosphere in the restaurant was a little tense. People were pretty good and they weren't panicking, but one or two were certainly looking nervous," Mr Fisher said.

He said many of the passengers were dressed in nightclothes and many looked "bleary-eyed".

Captain Pedersen had come into the restaurant and explained that he was confident he had outrun the attackers.

"Of course he got a massive round of applause."

"It was all a very surreal experience - not the kind of thing you expect on a cruise," Mr Fisher told the BBC.

Pirates hijack ship off Somalia
21 Oct 05 |  Africa
Somalia's dangerous waters
26 Sep 05 |  Africa
Somalia - where the gun rules
09 Feb 05 |  Africa

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