The American cruise company Princess Cruises says that it deeply regrets that one of its ships failed to stop to help a fishing boat that was adrift in the Pacific Ocean.
Three birdwatchers on board the cruise ship said that they had spotted the fishermen waving for help and told ship staff, but could not persuade them to change course.
In a statement, Princess Cruises said that although passengers on the Star Princess had spotted the castaways and alerted staff, the captain had not been told.
The BBC reports that two of the three Panamanians on board the fishing boat later died. The one surviving fisherman, Adrian Vasquez (pictured above), 18, was later rescued 1,000km (620 miles) off the mainland, near the Galapagos Islands, after 28 days at sea.
He said that he survived after his friends died thanks to a sudden rainstorm that gave him fresh drinking water supplies.
He reported that, after 16 days adrift, he and his companions saw a cruise ship sailing past and made desperate attempts to flag it down, but it did not stop for them.
Princess Cruises said that a preliminary investigation had found that there had been a "breakdown in communication" in passing on the passengers' concerns.
The statement said: "Understandably, Captain Perrin is devastated that he is being accused of knowingly turning his back on people in distress.
"Had the captain received this information, he would have had the opportunity to respond."
Princess Cruises added that it understood its responsibility under the law of the sea to help any vessel in distress, and said that its ships had been involved in more than 30 rescues in the last decade.
Adrian Vasquez told the Associated Press that he was still angry that the ship sailed past him and his friends, two weeks before he was rescued.
"I said 'God will not forgive them'", he said.
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