Chilean Navy Rescues Cruise Passengers Stranded In Antarctica

By Dialogo
December 09, 2008

AFP Chilean naval vessels completed the evacuation of 89 passengers of the cruise ship 'City of Ushuaia," stranded in Antarctica on Thursday, confirmed Commander Alan Nettle, chief of operations of the Third Naval Area. As the ship is anchored in the sand is not in danger of sinking, the 33 crew members remained on board for the rescue work, said Nettle. All the passengers from the ‘Ushuaia’ were able to board the "Achilles” said the captain to radio Cooperativa of Santiago. "The crew stayed on board the vessel to establish the rescue process which the ship owners will have to continue," he added, from the city of Punta Arenas, the southern tip of Chile. The rescue efforts took place throughout the early moring hours on Friday, according to a spokesperson for the office of public relations for the Navy to AFP. Passengers rescued in the transport vessel Achilles were on their way to the Chilean Antarctic base Eduardo Frei at the Fildes Peninsula, from where they will be transferred to a city undetermined. The Navy also sent a helicopter to the crash area, where there was an oil spill of 1 km in length around the 'Ushuaia', according to reports. The Naval tug boat Lautaro has been sent to begin control prevention of the spill the Navy added. The 'Ushuaia' crashed against the rocks Thursday in the wake of the low water level and remained stranded in the vicinity of Wilhelmina Bay, near the island Barbantes, west of the Antarctic Peninsula. In Buenos Aires, a source of the Navy told AFP that the ship had citizens from Belgium, Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, United States, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, China, Spain and Cyprus. Because of the impact, the cruiser broke down and began to have a "minimal input of water and loss of fuel," although no danger of sinking, according to the report of the Navy. The owner of the boat is an Argentine company that carries out tours to Antarctica from Ushuaia, the southernmost city in Argentina. Antarctica is the destination of nearly half a hundred cruises in the spring and summer, and accidents of this type are not uncommon. In December 2007 the Norwegian cruise ship 'Fram', with 256 passengers and 70 crew members on board, spent two hours adrift. A month before the cruise ship 'Explorer' crashed into an iceberg 96 miles from the Antarctic Peninsula, after which its 154 occupants managed to be rescued.