Bomb hoax delays cruise ship off Florida

MIAMI Sun Mar 28, 2010 2:39pm EDT

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MIAMI (Reuters) - A Carnival cruise ship was held off the Florida coast for several hours on Sunday while authorities searched the vessel and arrested a drunk passenger on bomb hoax charges, the Coast Guard said.

No explosives or hazardous materials were found and the ship, the Carnival Sensation, was allowed to dock at Port Canaveral on Florida's Atlantic coast Sunday morning, Coast Guard petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Evanson said.

The ship carried 3,470 passengers and crew and was headed back to Port Canaveral after a three-day cruise to the Bahamas when a passenger reported hearing another passenger make a bomb threat, the Coast Guard said.

The man was quoted as saying, "We are jihad. Come to the top deck and watch the bomb. The bomb is going to blow," Evanson said, adding that the Coast Guard was told that the man was "highly intoxicated."

Jihad is the Arabic word for "struggle," though it is sometimes used to describe an Islamic holy war.

Brevard County sheriff's deputies arrested an American passenger, Ibrahim Khalil Zarou, 31, of Leesburg, Virginia, on a state charge of making a false report of a bomb. The felony count carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

(Reporting by Jane Sutton, editing by Paul Simao)

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