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Calls for more shipboard lifeguards following accident in liner’s wave pool

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  • Boy remains “critical” in intensive care unit after nearly drowning in a cruise ship’s wave pool
  • Passengers help with CPR treatment before the ship’s medics took over
  • Accident sees increased calls for lifeguards to maintain a permanent presence aboard all cruise liners

A young boy remains “critical” in a US hospital intensive care unit after nearly drowning in a cruise ship’s onboard wave pool.

The incident took place aboard the Oasis of the Seas, operated by Royal Caribbean, shortly after the cruise liner had embarked on a 7-day tour from Port Everglades in Florida.

Holiday accident on cruise

Underwater for 6 minutes

Emergency services said tides in the wave pool “swept away” 4 year-old Ascanio Azzia. He was then submerged for almost 6 minutes.

A Special Victims Unit spokesman, Mike Jachles, said another passenger on the ship saw the incident and summoned help.

“The mother frantically searched for her child,” Mr Jachles said. “But [she]was unable to see him enter a wave pool.”

Support from passengers

Other passengers were able to help Ascanio, who promptly received CPR treatment before the ship’s own medics arrived.

Immediately after the incident the vessel changed course and went back to Port Everglades, where Ascanio was taken to a children’s specialist hospital.

“Accidental” say experts

Stressing the incident appeared to have been accidental, Mr Jachles added that the liner had good facilities and could “handle a critical situation”.

Florida police investigated the incident before the liner was permitted to resume the cruise. In a statement, Royal Caribbean said it is “providing support” to Ascanio’s family.

Florida police investigated the incident before the liner was permitted to resume the cruise. In a statement, Royal Caribbean said it is “providing support” to Ascanio’s family.

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Calls for permanent on-board lifeguards

The accident has seen more calls for lifeguards to maintain a permanent presence aboard all cruise liners, and for ships’ facilities to be fully fit for purpose.

“All ships should deploy lifeguards and consider making all children wear flotation vests around the pool areas,” noted Prof Andrew Coggins, a cruise and tourism academic from Pace University in New York City.

Prof Coggins added that responsibility for children’s care at sea was not merely that of the ship’s crew or its operator. “As a parent, you always have to keep an eye out.”

Latest in line of incidents

In the last few years youngsters have been involved in a number of incidents aboard cruise ships. In 2013, after a 4 year-old was almost drowned on the Disney Fantasy, the ship’s owner became the only operator to date to deploy trained personnel permanently to its wave pools.

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