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Friday, 9 March, 2001, 17:34 GMT
UK cruise ship in sea rescue
Aurora
Passengers were told to look for survivors
By Hong Kong correspondent Damian Grammaticas

A British cruise ship has been involved in a dramatic rescue in the South China Sea.

The P&O liner, the Aurora, was making her maiden voyage around the world when she went to the aid of a ship that had overturned in rough seas.

Survivor Boris Tersintsev
Survivor Boris Tersintsev says his ship went down in 40 minutes
Passengers on the Aurora lined the decks to help keep a look-out for survivors.

Eleven Russian sailors were plucked out of the water by the Aurora and other ships.

But another six sailors are understood to have died after spending hours in chilly waters, and two are still missing.

Search

The Aurora was steaming through the Taiwan Strait when the captain announced that a Cambodian registered ship was sinking and he was diverting his course.


The weather was very, very rough

Rescuer Alan Hawkins
The 76,000-ton super-liner then headed towards the South China coast and joined the search.

Captain Steve Burgoine asked the 1200 passengers to help scan the sea for survivors.

The Cambodian registered ship, the Pamela Dream, which had been carrying lumber, had already overturned and sunk.

Captain Burgoine said the water was littered with logs and debris, including an upturned lifeboat and lifejackets.

Rescued

It is thought the Pamela Dream was swamped by waves in the choppy seas.

Steve Burgoine
Captain Steve Burgoine says water was covered in debris
The Aurora launched her speed boats and picked up three of the Russian crew, but one could not be revived.

Alan Hawkins, one of the rescuers, said the sea was very rough with waves of about five metres (17 feet).

A few hours later the cruise ship limped into Hong Kong, her progress slowed because some of the debris had bent a propeller.

Repairs will be made in Singapore, before she heads for her home port of Southampton.

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