Wednesday, March 18, 2015

MSC's statement on Tunis terrorist attack

The following statement was issued by MSC Crociere regarding the terrorist attach today in Tunis:

Update received March 19, 2:20pm EDT
Four ships will begin to sail amended itineraries with immediate effect

Geneva, 19 March 2015 – In the wake of Thursday’s (18 March) terror attack at the Bordo National Museum, in Tunis, MSC Cruises has decided to suspend all remaining Tunisian calls in the 2015 summer programme in the interests of guest and crewmember safety.

Itineraries affected by the change will impact four of MSC Cruises’ 12 ships as follows:
MSC Splendida will call at Valletta, in Malta
MSC Fantasia will call at Palma de Mallorca, Mallorca
MSC Preziosa will call at Cagliari, in Sardinia
MSC Divina will call at Valletta a day earlier and head directly to Corfu, Greece

Tunis has long featured on MSC Cruises itineraries, and the city’s extensive range of cultural offerings have proved very popular with visitors.

MSC Cruises Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said: “Sadly, the murderous actions of the people behind this devastating attack will have far-reaching and profoundly damaging effects on democratic Tunisia and its faltering economy. Tunisia can little afford to be considered a no-go zone at this time, but regrettably that is how tourists will now see it.”

The safety and security of guests and crewmembers is MSC Cruises’ number one priority at all times, and the events that took place this week preclude the possibility of MSC Cruises calling in Tunisia for the foreseeable future.

MSC Cruises remains in continuous contact with relevant government ministries and international bodies, and does not consider additional itinerary changes to be necessary at this time.

Mr Vago added: “Tunis is a key destination for MSC Cruises, and we hope to be able to restore it to itineraries in due course. But until we receive the necessary reassurances that the security situation has returned to normal, we have to take our guests to alternative Mediterranean destinations.”

He concluded: “I want to personally thank the Tunisian authorities for the way they have addressed this exceptionally challenging situation, and for enabling us to implement our own response plan effectively.”

Update received March 19, 11:10am EDT
Issued March 19, 2015 11:00am EST -

MSC Cruises statement: Last two missing MSC Splendida guests accounted for safe and sound

MSC Cruises reports that the remaining two guests who had been missing following the tragic events of yesterday in Tunis were found safe and sound. The two Spanish citizens, Cristina Rubio Benlloch and Juan Carlos Sanchez Oltra, a young couple traveling on board MSC Splendida, had spent the night in hiding at the Bardo National Museum. The woman, who is pregnant, was immediately taken in observation to the hospital. Both her and the child are reported well.

Following the news that the young Spanish couple are safely accounted for, MSC Cruises sadly confirms that, based on the information available as of today, 12 MSC Cruises guests are dead (nationalities: 2 Colombians, 3 French, 3 Japanese, 2 Spanish, 1 British and 1 Belgian) and 13 are injured (nationalities: 1 Belgian, 7 French, 4 Japanese and 1 South African), of which two are in serious conditions.

Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises, while in Tunis today to meet the injured and their families to ensure that they are receiving all the necessary assistance, met the Tunisian Minister of Tourism, Ms. Salma Elloumi Rekik. At the meeting, the Minister confirmed that, in conjunction with yesterday’s tragic events, a total of 20 people died, seven of whom have yet to be identified.

Update received March 19, 1:47am EDT
Issued  Geneva, 19 March 2015 6:30AM –

MSC Cruises confirms that its ship MSC Splendida has left the port of La Goulette, Tunis, this morning at 6AM.

MSC Splendida received the authorisation from the relevant authorities to leave the port of La Goulette and is heading, as originally scheduled, to Barcelona where it is currently expected to arrive at 9AM on Friday 20 March.

MSC Cruises is present on site with its crises team in order to continue to provide key assistance on the ground to MSC Splendida’s guests who were involved in the tragic events and needing assistance.

MSC Cruises Executive Chairman, Pierfrancesco Vago, will be arriving in Tunis in the coming hours in order to make a close assessment of the situation, meet in person as well as arrange to provide assistance to those affected by these tragic events and their relatives and consult with local authorities.

Update received March 18, 11:35pm EDT
Issued Geneva, 19 March 2015, 03:15 GMT -

On 18 March, MSC Splendida called the port of La Goulette, Tunis for its weekly call performed during the season from 17 December 2014 to 15 April 2015. The ship arrived with 3,714 guests and 1,267 crewmembers aboard. As it is the case every time the ship calls 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 this tragedy, regular stringent safety procedures were set in motion and the ship management called for the immediate cancellation of all on-going shore excursions and recall 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 organising 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 of the situation took constant synchronization between all actors aboard and ashore and filtering of the stream of 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 telephony 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 work and started providing assistance and support to guests in this painful moment. MSC Cruises Executive Chairman, Pierfrancesco Vago, will arrive in Tunis in the early hours of 19 March in order to make a close assessment of the situation, also to provide assistance to the victims and their relatives as well as consult with local authorities.

Based on the communication made by officials 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 the injured ones.

Update received March 18, 9:23pm EDT
Issued 8:30 PM EST:

MSC Cruises extends its deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims of today’s tragic events in Tunis.

MSC Cruises remains in close contact with the relevant national and international authorities, local authorities, the ship captain as well as with the port agent to constantly monitor the situation as it unfolds.

The command and the entire crew of MSC Splendida is working hard to ensure guests on board are regularly kept abreast of the situation as updates are received from the relevant authorities. MSC Cruises immediately set up a Task Force to support the ship and all its guests.

We’ve also maintained continuous and constant contact with the embassies of about 50 countries whose nationals were on board so as to receive all relevant pieces of information in a timely manner.

The safety and well-being of our guests is MSC Cruises’ number one priority at all times. At the time of the events, some of MSC Splendida guests were on shore excursions. Consequently, all MSC Cruises coaches on tour at the time of the events were immediately ordered back to the port and all other excursions and on the ground activities were immediately suspended.

To assist guests in contacting their families and loved ones back at home, onboard internet and telephone services are readily available and free of charge.

In the early hours of the evening, MSC Cruises’ Care Team reached the ship in Tunis. They’ve immediately set out to work to start providing assistance and support to guests in this heart-breaking moment.

Received March 18, 6:41 pm EDT
With respect to the tragic events that are currently unfolding in Tunis, MSC Cruises confirms the following:

One of our ships, MSC Splendida was calling the port of La Goulette, Tunis with 3,714 guests and 1,267crew members aboard.

At the time of the events, some of MSC Splendida guests were on shore excursions, including to the Bardo National Museum. Consequently, all MSC Cruises coaches on tour at the time of the events were immediately ordered back to the port and all other excursions and on the ground activities were immediately suspended.

At this time, the return of passengers to the ship is still undergoing (please note that all the passengers of United States and Canadian nationality are all accounted for and safely back on board).

The ship’s departure, originally scheduled for tonight, was postponed. For this, local security authorities set up exceptional security measures in the port and around the ships to ensure the utmost safety of MSC Cruises’ guests and crew members.

An MSC Cruises team comprised of representatives from the Company’s ownership, its management and dedicated Care task force is currently on its way to Tunisia to provide all possible support to guests onboard and to work closely with local authorities.

MSC Cruises remains in close contact with the relevant national and international authorities, local authorities, the ship captain as well as with the port agent to constantly monitor the situation as it unfolds.

Source: MSC Crociere