Coast Guard continues response to vessel fire off San Juan Harbor

Passengers aboard the 561-foot Caribbean Fantasy ferry vessel use the marine escape system to awaiting lift rafts as they abandon the vessel a mile from San Juan Harbor, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. The Caribbean Fantasy had a fire start in the engine room that spread to other compartments forcing passengers and crew to abandon the vessel. U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Station San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Passengers aboard the 561-foot Caribbean Fantasy ferry vessel use the marine escape system to awaiting lift rafts as they abandon the vessel a mile from San Juan Harbor, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of Station San Juan, Puerto Rico.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard is responding Wednesday to a fire aboard the 561-foot passenger ferry vessel Caribbean Fantasy approximately half a mile off of Punta Salinas.

At approximately 7:42 a.m. Wednesday, Coast Guard Sector San Juan received a report of a fire aboard a Panamanian-flagged passenger/cargo ship carrying 511 passengers, including crew en route from the Dominican Republic.  Initial reports indicated a manifest of 512, however the vessel returned to port in the Dominican Republic to disembark one passenger earlier in its voyage.

The fire, which began in the engine room, spread to other compartments on board, which led to the entire ship’s evacuation. All passengers and crewmembers were evacuated from the ship and taken to Pier 6 in San Juan port where emergency service personnel received them for medical evaluations.

At 10:21 a.m. Wednesday the Caribbean Fantasy ran aground approximately half a nautical mile offshore of Punta Salinas.

The Coast Guard has established a 1,000-yard safety zone around the vessel. No reports of sheening or pollution around the vessel at this time.

Multiple Coast Guard surface and air assets were committed to the response effort and worked with local Puerto Rican marine police, fire, pilot and commercial tug boats from the port, as well as the Puerto Rico Joint Forces of Action (FURA), Customs and Border Protection marine units and good Samaritans to effect the rescue.

A Unified Command comprised of federal, state and industry agencies and organizations has been established at Coast Guard Sector San Juan to manage the incident and salvage efforts of the Caribbean Fantasy.

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