Royal Caribbean opens cruise ship to house visiting rescuers

Southeast

SURFSIDE, FLORIDA – JUNE 24: Miami-Dade Fire Rescue personnel continue search and rescue operations at the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building that partially collapsed on June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. It is unknown at this time how many people were injured as search-and-rescue effort continues with rescue crews from across Miami-Dade and Broward counties. According to reports, almost 100 people are still unaccounted for. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

MIAMI (AP) — With housing options dwindling, a cruise ship will host hundreds of rescuers pouring into South Florida from across the country as the search for victims continues at a fallen 12-story condominium building near Miami.

Royal Caribbean cruise lines said it will host about 600 first responders on board its Explorer of the Seas ship.

The ship, which can accommodate more than 3,000 passengers, began housing rescue teams Thursday and likely will continue for the next month.

“This tragedy in our own backyard is heart-wrenching,” said Richard Fain, Royal Caribbean Group’s chairman and CEO. “Our thoughts are with the families and our whole community, and our thanks go out to the hardworking search and rescue teams. Providing them shelter is a small way to show our support.”

The company said it will provide individual staterooms, hot meals, laundry service and Wi-Fi to its guests.

Juan Kuryla, the port director, told the Miami Herald on Friday that the ship now docked at PortMiami was brought in specifically to provide lodging for rescuers as hotels and other accommodations in the area fill up because of the July 4 holiday weekend.

Kuryla worried that Hurricane Elsa could complicate things should it veer closer to South Florida and said the ship may have to leave port if the threat becomes more serious.

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