Page last updated at 14:24 GMT, Friday, 5 December 2008

Antarctic cruise passengers saved

Undated file image of the Ushuaia
This ship is not believed to be in danger of sinking

The Chilean navy has rescued all 89 passengers from an Argentine cruise ship which ran aground off the Antarctic coast, naval officials say.

Passengers from the Panama-registered ship, the Ushuaia, are being taken to a Chilean military base in Antarctica.

The cruise ship became stuck on Thursday in Wilhelmina Bay, a peninsula that reaches towards the southern tip of South America.

It was said to be leaking fuel, but was not in danger of sinking.

None of the passengers was hurt in the incident.

The commander in charge of the operation, Alan Nettle, told Chilean radio that the 33 crew members had remained on board the vessel "to carry out salvage actions the owner will have to follow".

Ice danger

Tourist travel to the Antarctic region is believed to have increased five-fold in the last 15 years.

During 2006-7, more than 37,000 visited the region, according to figures from the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO). Most of those visitors arrived by sea.

The organisation has expressed concern that some vessels are not adequately strengthened for icy seas.

This increases the risk of serious accidents and the risk of an oil spillage if a ship is damaged.

A year ago, 150 people had to be evacuated to lifeboats when their ship hit an iceberg close to the South Shetland Islands in the Antarctic Ocean and started sinking.

The 2,400-tonne M/S Explorer had sustained a hole in its hull and eventually sank. All those on board were picked up by a nearby ship.

Print Sponsor

Call for curbs on Antarctic ships
31 Mar 08 |  Science & Environment
Why the white wilderness needs our care
31 Mar 08 |  Science & Environment
Stricken Antarctic ship evacuated
24 Nov 07 |  Americas

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific