Friday, November 23, 2007

Shades of Titanic: Rescue at Sea

The Associated Press reports that 154 passengers and crew aboard the expedition ship Explorer took to lifeboats in frigid Antarctic waters early Friday morning. All were safely transferred to Nordnorge, a Norwegian cruise ship. No injuries have been reported at this time.

A fist-sized hole was punched in the hull of Explorer when it struck an iceberg or other submerged object before dawn near the South Shetland Islands, south of Argentina.

Seas were calm during the rescue, according to Susan Hayes, a representative of GAP Adventures, the Canadian-based operator of the tour aboard the Explorer. It is unclear whether the abandoned vessel will sink, although it is listing heavily and sinking seems likely.

UPDATE: Although pumps were used earlier in an effort to save Explorer, subsequent photos have shown it lying on one side with its hull exposed. Britain's Sky News reports that according to a Chilean Navy spokeman, "Our units in the area aren't seeing anything. The Explorer is not visible any longer." The ship has apparently succumbed to its injuries and sunk.

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