The ship reported suffering a major engine room fire, which caused the loss of all power and left it drifting.

A total of 347 passengers and crew were rescued from the French mega yacht Le Boréal after an engine fire onboard caused the ship to issue a distress call around 2am local time on Wednesday.

Royal Navy boats, Royal Air Force helicopters and other emergency services crews were among those who responded to the ship fire, which occurred near the Falkland Islands, off the Argentinian coast in the southern Atlantic.

Ninety passengers and crew were air lifted to safety from life rafts, and the rest were transferred to Le Boréal’s sister ship, L’Austral. Both cruise ships are owned by cruise line Compagnie du Ponant.

A spokesman for Compagnie du Ponant, said: “As a precaution, all passengers were evacuated from the ship. They will re-embark on L’Austral, who [sic] belongs to the Ponant fleet, situated nearby, before being repatriated quickly.”

L’Austral is sailing for Stanley, a port in the Falklands, and will join the 90 passengers and crew who were airlifted and transferred to land by search and rescue helicopters. Those passengers underwent medical checks upon arrival in Stanley, and have been assigned accommodation as well as toiletries and personal hygiene items by the Falkland Islands Government. A call for warm clothes and accommodation also went out to the Stanley community.

Mike Summers, a member of the Falklands elected government, said: “We are delighted that all passengers and crew from the Boréal are safe and well. Many congratulations to the MoD SAR, the FIG Emergency Services … and all those who have worked to make the outcome successful and as comfortable as possible.”

Compagnie du Ponant statements indicate the fire was caused by a technical incident in the engine room. The 10,000-tonne cruise ship Le Boréal is now anchored safely with the captain and a skeleton crew on board. The ship had departed Ushuaia, Argentina, on 15 November on a 15-night round trip Antarctica cruise. The remainder of the cruise has been cancelled.

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