The passenger cruise ship Independence of the Seas was docked alongside a pier at the port of Gibraltar when there was an explosion of a nearby fuel tank. Reports indicate 12 passengers received minor injuries and were treated aboard the cruise. Royal Caribbean promptly pulled in the gangway and left the pier following the explosion. The explosion did not have anything to do with the cruise ship operations according to initial reports.
Initial reports from officials state that the blast was likely caused from a spark from welding that was taking place on a nearby tank, but the complete investigation has not yet taken place. Interestingly, a comment was made that the possibility of an attack has not been ruled out.
This is obviously a very scary incident for the passengers, and shows the need for the cruise ship companies to be well aware of the facilities the cruise ships are visiting and what safety precautions are being taken in these particular places. Cruise ship companies consistently try to escape any liability for any incidents that occur once the passengers leave the gangway. The cruise ship companies regularly visit many ports across the world, and are in the best position to evaluate the safety of these areas on behalf of the passengers.
We have recently heard of an incident where a passenger was actually shot and killed at a port of call due to gang violence. A lawsuit has been filed against the cruise ship company alleging that the cruise ship company knew or should have known of the dangers, and failed to warn the passengers.
While there is no evidence in this particular case involving the explosion that there were any safety issues that the cruise ship company failed to recognize in advance, or that the cruise ship company could have done anything to avoid the injuries to the passengers, the investigation has not yet been completed.
Explosions and fires do occur aboard cruise ships due to the equipment on board cruise ships, the use of welding, and oftentimes as a result of the inexperience of the crew. Our wrongful death firm has handled several cases involving catastrophic injuries due to explosion and fire aboard a cruise ship. Our firm continues to be safety advocates for crew members and passengers, and fight for their rights.