A Canadian cruise liner was holed in the Antartica by an unsuspecting iceberg.
The cruise ship was carrying nearly 300 passengers, including 119 Americans, ran aground on a remote Antarctic island and damaged its hull before getting free of rocks, officials said Wednesday. No one was injured.
More than 150 people aboard the MS Explorer were forced to endure sub-zero conditions in open lifeboats after a fist-sized hole was punched in its hull, which started flooding the vessel. Passengers and crew were rescued by another cruise ship.
The British Coastguard at Falmouth said 154 people were floating in life-rafts for hours off Antarctica’s Graham Island after evacuating. The captain and first officer have remained on board to retain communications, but the ship was taking water and listing at 25 degrees and is expected to sink.
One of the best known expedition ships in the world, the MV Explorer was the first cruise vessel to travel through the infamous North West Passage. A specialist ship which entered service in the 1970s, it has a reinforced hull to enable it to cope with icy conditions.
It is reported that the M/S Explorer is now lying on its side close to the South Shetland Islands, in the Antarctic Ocean.
Gap Adventures, which owns the ship, said 91 passengers, nine guides and 54 crew members were safely evacuated to lifeboats and then to another ship.
After staying the night at a base on a Chilean island, they are expected to fly to Chile’s mainland on Saturday.
Gap Adventures said 23 Britons, 17 Dutch, 10 Australians, 13 Americans and 10 Canadians were among the 154 on board.
The remaining nationalities of the rescued tourists are Irish, Danish, Swiss, Belgian, Japanese, French, German and Chinese, said the Toronto-based tour company.
The BBC says there was confusion in earlier reports in the various news channels over crew and passenger numbers due to uncertainty at Gap Adventures.
Following the news of the incident, the specialist Lloyds List maritime publication said the 2,400-tonne Explorer had five faults at its last inspection.