November 23, 2007
13 American tourist were among the passengers that escaped a sinking cruise ship in Antarctic waters.
The iceberg pierced a hole through the hull, the size of a fist, big
enough to cause the ship to take on water fast. The cruise ship "The Explorer" carried 100 passengers and crew, including more than a dozen Americans.
As the boat began to list badly, the captain gave the order to abandon ship. Four big lifeboats evacuated everyone on board, but survivors were forced to endure sub-zero temperatures and the rough waters of the Antarctic.
Captain Arnvid Hansen says passengers huddled together in the lifeboats for about five hours before his ship arrived. No one was hurt.
Most of them had thermal suits on and life jackets so I think everybody was in good condition more or less. Some wet and cold, but no hypothermia.
The rescue comes after another Antarctic incident when a tourist ship hit the rocks at this volcanic island a few months ago.
More than 20,000 tourists visit the region each year and most undergo
specific safety training in preparation for emergency scenarios like this.
"There is a fairly strict protocol of tour operators in that particular area. They all know how they have to adhere to that. And there's always very strict safety briefings, when as a passenger you take part in these tours" said travel journalist Jamie Bowden.
"The Explorer" was built for icy waters in 1969 and had a similar accident in the 70s, when it ran aground during a storm.
This may have been her last voyage. With everybody on board surviving the lone casualty in this accident may be the old ship herself.
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