Chilean navy saves Antarctic cruise passengers

More than 120 passengers and crew had to be rescued today from a cruise ship that hit rocks off Antarctica.

More than 120 passengers and crew had to be rescued today from a cruise ship that hit rocks off Antarctica.

The Chilean navy took 89 passengers and 33 crew from the Ushuaia to their naval base on the continent.

The Panamanian-flagged cruise ship sent out alarms yesterday after it started leaking fuel and taking on water.

A rock damaged the hull as it passed through the Gerlache Strait, leaving it adrift in Guillermina Bay.

The Chilean navy said the cruise ship was carrying seven Britons, 14 Danish passengers, 12 Americans, 11 Australians, nine Germans, seven Argentines, six Chinese, six Spaniards, five Swiss, three Italians, three French, two Canadians, two from Ireland, a Belgian and a passenger from New Zealand. All were safe and well.

The cruise ship, built in 1970, operates from the Port of Ushuaia in southern Argentina, transporting passengers to Antarctica and islands in the icy waters of the South Atlantic.

The Chilean navy positioned the ship Lautaro near the abandoned Ushuaia in an attempt to prevent any environmental damage from leaking fuel.

It is not the first cruise ship to have trouble recently in Antarctica.

In December 2007, the Norwegian MS Fram carrying 300 people lost engine power during an electrical outage and struck a glacier, smashing a lifeboat but causing no injuries.

In November last year another cruise vessel, the MS Explorer, hit an iceberg and sank hours later. All 154 passengers and crew took to lifeboats in the icy waters and were rescued.

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