MOBILE, Ala. -- A tow line being used to bring a stranded Carnival cruise ship to shore broke Thursday afternoon, potentially delaying passengers' return, officials said.
"The tow line broke and we're seeing if that would impact the previously announced ETA of 8 to 11 p.m.," Carnival spokesman Vance Gulliksen told the Los Angeles Times.
Officials were expected to discuss the development during a briefing at the port at 2:30 p.m. Central Time.
PHOTOS: Stranded cruise ship Triumph
Mike Padilla of Richardson, Texas, was at the port Thursday awaiting his wife, Kerry, when she called to report something had happened to the line connecting the Carnival Triumph to one of four tug boats pulling it toward shore.
"She said, 'I think the tow line broke. It's in the water -- it didn't used to be,'" he said.
Then she told him, "I don't know what happened, but all of a sudden we're facing the other direction."
Kerry Padilla told him the boat was still moving, "still cruising along" only "really, really slow."
"She said some people just can't take it in stride and they're panicking," Mike Padilla said.
The ship's 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew have been on board the Triumph since Feb. 7, when the ship left Galveston, Texas, on what was supposed to be a four-day cruise.
Mike Padilla told The Times that he was concerned the broken line would further delay the ship's return, already expected after 8 p.m., well after dark.
He was also troubled that the cruise company had not sent staff to address families' concerns. The American Red Cross and Salvation Army had trucks parked at the port with staff and volunteers on hand.
"Where is Carnival? Where are the Carnival people who should be talking to family members? I haven't seen one," Mike Padilla said.
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