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Four elderly passengers die on cruise ship left in limbo off Panama coast

Four elderly passengers die on cruise ship left in limbo off Panama coast

Four guests have died have died on a cruise ship that is stuck in limbo off the coast of Panama.

Holland America Line said that Panamanian authorities have given the company approval to transfer healthy guests from the Zaandam to the Rotterdam.

The Zaandam is currently carrying 138 people who have complained of flu-like symptoms, which are similar to coronavirus symptoms.

Two people have tested positive for coronavirus.

A Catholic altar featuring Our Lady of Mount Carmel, or "La Virgen del Carmen," considered the patron saint of sailors.

In a statement released overnight Holland America Line confirmed that four older guests have passed away on Zaandam.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and we are doing everything we can to support them during this difficult time,” the statement read.

“Today we announced a plan to transfer groups of healthy Zaandam guests to Rotterdam, with strict protocols for this process developed in conjunction with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Only those who have not been ill will be moved, and health screenings will be conducted before transferring.

“Priority for the first guests to transfer will be given to those on Zaandam with inside staterooms and who are over 70.

“Once aboard Rotterdam, all guests will continue to remain in their staterooms until disembarkation. “Any guests who are currently ill, or in isolation as a close contact, and all crew will remain on Zaandam.”

There are 1,243 guests and 586 crew on board.

Zaandam was sailing a South America cruise that departed Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7 and was originally scheduled to end at San Antonio, Chile, on March 21.