Investigators were en route Thursday, and dead and injured were being evacuated, a day after 26-foot waves crashed into a cruise ship and killed two people off northeast Spain, officials said.
The Greece-based Louis Cruise Lines ship was in the Mediterranean north of Barcelona, Spain, when it was hit by three "abnormal" waves, each about 26 feet (8 meters) high, said cruise line spokesman Michael Maratheftis.
Maltese government officials were heading to Barcelona on Thursday to investigate, because of the ship's Maltese flag, a spokeswoman for the Spanish government said.
The waves smashed five windows on deck five in public areas -- on the forward part, or bow, of the 14-deck ship. Two male passengers -- a German and an Italian -- were killed, Maratheftis said.
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"It was a shock. It was unexpected," Vito Sgobba, the cruise ship's hotel manager, told CNN in a phone interview from Barcelona.
The first wave, Sgobba said, pushed down the ship's bow, and the second wave soon after struck the front of deck five.
Sgobba was on an upper deck and quickly rushed to the scene with other crew members, who evacuated the injured to the ship's hospital. Several doctors and nurses traveling aboard as passengers also helped, he said.
The two deceased apparently died at the scene, and did not make it to the ship's hospital, Sgobba said.
The victims were a German man, 69, from North Rhine Westphalia, and an Italian man, 52, who was traveling with his family, their respective governments told CNN.
Fourteen others were treated aboard the ship for light injuries, but were hospitalized as a precaution when the ship returned to Barcelona on Wednesday night, Maratheftis said.
The vessel, the Louis Majesty, was traveling from Barcelona to Genoa, Italy, said the Greek Public Ministry of the Mercantile Marine.
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Spain's state news agency reported that two of the passengers had serious injuries, including a 62-year-old woman with fractures in both legs. Maratheftis would not comment on those reports, but said one passenger had a broken hand and there were no life-threatening injuries to the 14 wounded passengers.
The incident occurred 24 miles off Cabo de San Sebastian, near the Spanish town of Palafrugell, Maratheftis said.
The ship had 1,350 passengers and 580 crew members, the Greek ministry said. The passengers were from 27 nations, Maratheftis said by phone from Cyprus. They included Americans, French, Germans and Italians.
All the passengers were to be flown or bused home on Thursday, said Maratheftis and a spokeswoman at Barcelona's airport.
The ship was on the last day of its cruise and was due to arrive at Genoa after an approximately week-long journey in the western Mediterranean, a spokeswoman for Barcelona's port authority said.
"The next cruise has been canceled," Maratheftis said, and the Louis Majesty will remain in Barcelona for repairs. The vessel is to resume cruises on March 14, he added.