Last updated: 02:05 PM ET, Thu March 19 2015

MSC Cruise Passengers Dead, Costa Passengers Missing After Tunis Museum Attack

Impacting Travel | MSC Cruises | Tim Wood | March 19, 2015

MSC Cruise Passengers Dead, Costa Passengers Missing After Tunis Museum Attack

PHOTO: Protesters take to the streets Wednesday night after the gunman attack at the Bardo National Museum. (via Twitter)

The news from Tunis has turned even more tragic, as cruise ships making excursion stops in Tunis, Tunisia, Wednesday are reporting passengers dead or lost as a result of a gunman attack in the city.

MSC Cruises is reporting that nine of its passengers on the MSC Splendida died in the gunmen attack at the Bardo National Museum in Tunis.

Meanwhile, Costa Cruises reports that its Costa Fascinosa left port at 1:55 a.m. Central European Time without 13 of its passengers, whose whereabouts are unknown.

MSC sent the following statement at 12 am EST:

“On March 18th, MSC Splendida called on the port of La Goulette, Tunis for its weekly call performed during the season from Dec. 17, 2014 to April 15, 2015. The ship arrived with 3,714 guests and 1,267 crewmembers aboard.

“As is the case every time the ship calls in Tunis, a shore excursion offered MSC Cruises’ guests the opportunity to visit the famous Bardo National Museum. During the visit at the museum, some of MSC Cruises’ guests were caught in the middle of a terrorist attack along with guests from another cruise line.

“As soon as the company heard of the attack and the fact that some of its guests were involved in this tragedy, regular stringent safety procedures were set in motion and the ship’s management called for the immediate cancellation of all on-going shore excursions and recalled all buses and their passengers on the ground back to the ship. The security on board was also immediately raised to Level 3, its highest, by emergency protocol to ensure complete safety of all guests and crew members – the company’s number one priority at all times.

“In constant coordination with local, national and international authorities as well as embassies in Tunis and ground staff, MSC Splendida’s command worked towards organizing the safe return of the ship’s guests aboard, and assessing the situation in the city’s hospitals. Keeping guests aboard informed of the unfolding situation took constant synchronization between the officers aboard and the team ashore and the filtering of the sometimes contradicting information from various sources.

“Finally, to allow all guests to promptly contact their families and loved ones at home and to provide reassurance about their wellbeing, all onboard telephone and internet was made available.

“In the meantime, only a few hours after the tragic events, MSC Cruises’ Crisis Team reached the ship in Tunis and immediately set out to provide assistance and support to guests in this painful moment. MSC Cruises Executive Chairman, Pierfrancesco Vago, will arrive in Tunis in the early hours of March 19 in order to make a close assessment of the situation and to provide assistance to the victims and their relatives as well as consult with local authorities.

“Based on the communication made by official authorities, MSC Cruises, its ownership and entire management team report with profound sadness that at the time of this announcement nine of its guests are reported to have lost their lives, 12 were injured, and six (two Spanish nationals, one Belgian, one British, one French and one Japanese) are still unaccounted for in conjunction with the tragic event at the Bardo Museum. However, these numbers are still subject to modification whilst official identification is on-going.

“According to sources it would appear that of the victims, three were of Japanese nationality, two French, two Spanish and two were Colombian. The wounded, of which three Japanese nationals, one South African, one Belgian and seven French, are currently being treated in various hospitals. All of them are being assisted in person by members of the MSC Cruises Crisis Team that was immediately sent to Tunis to provide on the ground support.

“MSC Cruises will continue to publish updates on any confirmed official information it may receive.

“At this tragic time, the MSC Cruises family wishes to extend its most sincere and heartfelt condolences to all those who were affected by this tragic event and are suffering as a result, in particular to the families and friends of those who lost their lives as well as those injured.”

Costa officials have been updating their statements on their Facebook page. The statement posted at 1:55 am CET read:

“Costa Crociere confirms that Costa Fascinosa left Tunis port at 1.55 a.m. The Captain reported that there are still 13 passengers who did not return back onboard at the time of departure. Twelve Costa Care Team members and two Costa headquarters directors are already operative in Tunis to liaise with the local Authorities and to ensure the appropriate assistance is granted. Theee additional Care Team members will reach Tunis tomorrow morning.

"The Company is in close contact with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Local Security Authorities, the Captain of Costa Fascinosa and our local Port Agent for a continuous assessment of the situation on site and its evolution. Costa Crociere expresses its sympathy to all the people and their families involved in today's tragic event.”

As of 9 a.m. EST Thursday, there were a total of 23 reported deaths from the attack. Officials are calling the tragedy a terrorist attack, with reports of a total of nine alleged conspirators arrested thus far, according to The Telegraph.

For more information on MSC Cruises, Costa Cruises

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