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Thursday, April 24 2014 @ 09:32 AM EDT

Story About The Star Princess Neglecting To Rescue Panamanian Castaways Reported in Germany

Panama News

Editor's Comment: Today the German website www.sueddeutsche.de ran the story under the headline (machine translated) "Cruise ship is said to have ignored fishermen in distress." Here's my cleaned up version of the machine translation, but I don't speak German so there might be some errors. The important point is - the story is gaining traction in Europe. Translated article follows;

The three passengers aboard the "Star Princess" really wanted to do some bird watching, but instead they discovered fishing boat operating in the Pacific. The ornithologists reported the emergency to the crew, but the ship kept on going.

When the boat turned up weeks later, two of the three people on board were dead, and the cruise ship company is now conducting an internal investigation to determine how this could have happened.

On 10 March the three bird watching friends spent most of the day on the to promenade deck of the Star Princess. On board the cruise ship that was transiting from Ecuador to Costa Rica, they peered through their binoculars, looking to the horizon for rare sea birds. But instead, the two Americans and an Irishman found an object "which looked like a small house," a Panamanian fishing boat in distress.

Of the three friends just Adrian Vasquez came back, after 28 days at sea, with nothing but rain water and fish as food. (Š AP)

"We saw at least one person in it, who was waving a piece of cloth over his head, always up and down," said one of the three ornithologists, Jeff Gilligan, from Portland to the British Guardian.

It was immediately clear to them that something was not right, recalls Judy Meredith, Gilligan's friend from Oregon. The trio turned to the ship's crew, and reported their sighting.

But the Star Princess changed its course and left the boat and the people to their fate.

How could this happen, we will now clarify with an internal investigation, said the cruise provider.

As it turned out, that very day, all three people aboard the boat, the Fifty cents, were still alive.

The friends, young men who were aged between 16 and 24 years, on 24 February left Rio Hato for the fish to get a little money to earn it. But when they wanted to return home, the motor refused to start, and the boat drifted across the Pacific. The oldest of the three men just died on the evening of 10 March, the youngest died five days later.

Yet only nine days passed before the 18-year-old Adrian Vasquez could be saved, who fed himself during the four weeks at sea on ​​some rotten fish and rain water he was able to collect. Some fishermen took him aboard near the Galapagos Islands, 600 miles from the point where Vasquez and his friends had entered the sea.

After his return, the rescued castaway told the blogger and operator of the website panama-guide.com, Don Winner, that he and his friends had in turn seen the Star Princess. "It was a really big white ship. I waved a red T-shirt and Fernando waved a bright orange life jacket over his head. For a minute it looked as if they would turn to get us, but then they just keep driving," the castaway told Winner.

Cries for help echoed

When the three bird watching friends that day noticed that their call for help to the crew had apparently failed, they tried to alert the Coast Guard themselves. But the internet connection was bad on board the cruise ship and they found it difficult trying to find a local website. So they wrote the U.S. authorities an e-mail. Where and whether that message ever arrived, however, is unclear.

Princess Cruises' Star Princess and the owner of part of the tourism company Carnival Cruises (which among other things, Costa Concordia Costa Crociere is Eignerin) seeks to limit the damage. "At this point we can not confirm the reports. We conduct an internal investigation in the matter," the Guardian quoted a statement from the group. "It makes us sad to hear that two people died on board this boat, our thoughts and prayers are with their families."

The three travelers, who had discovered the castaways on the Fifty cents on that 10th of March, cannot get the thing out of my head: "The last few weeks we were just bad," said Judy Meredith of the U.S. TV station News Channel 21st . "I myself have a son I did not like it I imagine, because as the three are out on the sea, have no information to know that she has seen anyone - and just kept going." Jeff Gilligan told the Guardian: "I think of this incident a hundred times every day."

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