Cruise ship stuck in ice

2009-02-18 08:16

Buenos Aires - A Bahamas-flagged cruise ship stuck in ice in the Antarctic with more than 100 people on board is in "no danger" and is going to try to free itself, the Argentine navy said on Tuesday.

The Ocean Nova, a 73m long Danish-built and -crewed vessel, was stuck near the McClary Glacier in sight of an Argentine research base.

A Spanish oceanographic ship, a transport ship and an Argentine plane have been sent to lend assistance if required, the Argentine and Chilean navies said.

"Everything is under control and there is no danger," the Argentine navy said in a statement. "There is no damage to the hull or loss of fuel."

The Spanish defence ministry said there were 106 passengers and crew on the Ocean Nova. Argentine authorities put the number at 104.

An Argentine naval source told local media it was unclear whether the ship was trapped by ice or was grounded by low tide, but said it might be able to free itself when the tide rises.

"The captain of the ship said initially he believed he could free the vessel by its own means at high tide tonight (Tuesday)," the Argentine navy statement said.

Cruises to Antarctic glaciers are becoming increasingly popular, with some 46 000 tourists joining such tours last season, about double the figure of five years ago, according to the Association of Antarctic Tour Operators.

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