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Monday, May 14, 2012

Castaway sues Princess Cruises over rescue failure

Eighteen-year-old Adrian Vasquez, watched the cruise ship sail away

A Panamanian fisherman who survived 28 days adrift in the Pacific and watched two companions die is suing the owners of a cruise ship that sailed past.

Adrian Vasquez has filed a lawsuit in Florida alleging negligence by Princess Cruises, his lawyer said.

The American cruise company has said it deeply regrets that one of its ships sailed past the dying men.

Passengers said they spotted the castaways and alerted staff, but the firm said the captain was not informed.
Mr Vasquez's lawyer, Edna Ramos, said the lawsuit includes testimony from two cruise ship passengers who said they saw the boat and reported it to a member of staff.

One passenger, Judy Meredith, earlier told reporters she had informed a sales representative about the boat and had shown him it through a spotting telescope.

She said she had been assured the information had been passed on to the crew.

Mr Vasquez and his friends set out in their three-metre-long open fishing boat the Fifty Cents from the port of Rio Hato in February, and were on their way back after their catch when the engine failed.

After 16 days adrift, he says, they saw a cruise ship sailing past, and had made attempts to flag it down with a red sweater. 

"We felt happy, because we thought they were coming to rescue us," he said.

Mr Vasquez was eventually rescued 1,000km (620 miles) off the mainland, near the Galapagos Islands. His friends had already died of thirst.

He said he survived thanks to a sudden rainstorm that replenished his drinking water supplies. 

Princess Cruises said there appeared to have been a "breakdown in communication".

It said the captain - Edward Perrin - and the officer of the watch were not notified. 

Princess Cruises said it understood its responsibility under the law of the sea to help any vessel in distress, and said its ships had been involved in more than 30 rescues over the past decade.


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