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Wed, 16 Jul 2014 20:48:25 +0000
(NEW YORK) -- Coast Guard crews Wednesday afternoon began evacuating people from the maiden voyage of a nighttime casino cruise after they were forced to spend the night when the ship got stuck on rocks near the coast of Georgia, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
Tradewinds Casino Cruise's Escapade ship, with 96 passengers and 27 crew members, has been stranded since around midnight in South Carolina's Calibogue Sound. The Coast Guard members removed people from the ship after towlines broke in their initial attempts to free the ship and get it back into the water.
Cady Clark, 23, spoke to ABC News from the cruise line's dock in Savannah, Georgia, where she's waiting for her dad, who was a passenger aboard the ship.
"They're still taking all of the passengers from the ship to the Coast Guard station at Tybee Island and then they're supposed to be, I'm guessing, busing them back to the docks because all of their vehicles are here," she said.
Clark said her father, Mark Eaton, had been looking forward to taking the Escapade's first cruise, but she isn't sure whether he'll venture out on the ship again.
She added that her dad is an Afghanistan veteran who suffered a back injury during a hard helicopter landing and needs pain medication. She and her mother rushed to the dock with the meds when he called them Wednesday morning from another passenger's cellphone. Two other families are waiting there, too, she said.
"The mood with the families here, everyone has kind of got the sigh of relief right now, now that we've heard from the families," Clark said. "Everything's lightened up."
The cruise was supposed to run from 7 p.m. until 12:30 a.m., according to the company's website. It's still stranded, about two miles from Tybee Island in Georgia.
There are no reports of injuries.
Crews first attempted to move the boat around noon once water levels reached high tide, but the towlines broke, Petty Officer First Class Lauren Jorgensen said.
More than 12 hours later, passengers were finally being ferried from the ship to smaller boats, and then taken to a large Coast Guard Cutter. Once all passengers are aboard the cutter, they will be taken to the US Coast Guard base on Tybee Island.
It's not clear what conditions were on the boat overnight, but passengers probably weren't gambling, Clark said.
Gambling is only allowed in international waters, which start 3 nautical miles offshore, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The ship was stranded 1.8 miles from shore, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
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