A rescue ship has reached a cruise liner from the same fleet as the wrecked Costa Concordia, which is adrift in pirate waters near the Seychelles with 1,000 people on board.
Italy-based Costa Cruises confirmed the arrival of the ship last night, seven hours after the Costa Allegra sent out a distress signal after a fire in the engine room cut power and left it drifting out of control.
It also confirmed 636 passengers of various nationalities, including 31 British and one Irish passenger, and 413 crew members are on board.
A group of armed Italian marines are also on the ship to ward off any threat from pirates, who stalk the notorious Indian Ocean waters.
The Italian coastguard has said that all passengers are safe and the fire was extinguished.
Costa Cruises said the first ship was expected to be a French-flagged, 295ft fishing vessel.
Another ship of similar size is also sailing toward Costa Allegra and will join two merchant ships and two tugboats expected to arrive later this afternoon.
It is not clear if the passengers will have to be evacuated.
The ship owner Costa Crociere said in a statement there were no injuries or casualties among the 1,049 people on board. The company said crew were working to "restore functionality" to the ship.
Costa said the fire aboard the Allegra broke out near the ship's electrical generators.
"The shipboard fire-extinguishing system and procedures were promptly activated and the special firefighting units intervened to extinguish (the) fire," Costa's statement said.
"The fire did not spread to any other area of the ship. There were no injuries or casualties," Costa said. It did not say what caused the fire.
The cruise company said a general emergency alarm was "promptly sounded" as a precaution, and all passengers and crew not involved in the emergency reached muster stations.
The ship was about 20 miles from Alphonse Island, one of the atolls in the Seychelles, a nation of islands and atolls that is a popular tourist destination. The Allegra's webcam is currently offline.
It is believed there will be helicopter transfers of supplies from Alphonse to the stricken ship during daylight hours.
The Costa cruise line was plunged into the spotlight recently after its liner the Costa Concordia was wrecked off the Italian island of Giglio.
Twenty-five people were killed when the Concordia ran aground on January 13 as Captain Francesco Schettino allegedly performed a "salute" to the people of the Tuscan island.
Seven others are still missing and presumed dead. More than 4,200 passengers and crew were evacuated.
Speaking about the Costa Allegra, travel writer Simon Calder told Sky News: "It's going to be a pretty uncomfortable 24-48 hours for the passengers but then they'll be on dry land."
News of the stricken ship, however, is likely to further damage the multi-billion cruise industry, he added.