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Coast Guard says leak caused cruise ship fire

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — A Coast Guard official said Monday that the cause of the engine-room fire on the Carnival cruise ship Triumph was a leak in a fuel oil return line.

In a conference call Monday with reporters, Cmdr. Theresa Hatfield estimated that the investigation of the disabled ship would take six months.

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She said the Bahamas —where the ship is registered or flagged — is leading the investigation, with the Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board leading U.S. interests in the probe.

She said investigators have been with the ship since it arrived Thursday in Mobile, and interviews have been conducted with passengers and crew.

She said the crew responded appropriately to the fire. ‘‘They did a very good job,’’ she said.

The ship left Galveston, Texas, on Feb. 17 for a four-day trip to Mexico. The fire paralyzed the ship early Sunday, leaving it adrift in the Gulf of Mexico until tugboats towed it to Mobile. Passengers described harsh conditions on board: overflowing toilets, long lines for food, foul odors, and tent cities for sleeping on deck.

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