Wednesday, January 31, 2007
A cruise ship carrying Australian passengers has run aground off an island near Antarctica. The MS Nordkapp was carrying 76 crew and 295 passengers - 12 of them Australian - when it ran aground just off Deception Island about 2.30pm on Tuesday. Deception Island is part of the South Shetland Islands, which are about 120 kilometres from the Antarctic peninsula. No one was injured and the ship was able to free itself under its own steam, said Australian sales agency MyPlanet on behalf of the company that operates the vessel, the Hurtigruten Group. "There is no danger to passengers, crew, the environment or the vessel. The Hurtigruten spokesperson Mr Sten Lillebo has confirmed that he has been in contact with the people on board and that everything is calm onboard," MyPlanet said in a statement.
MS NordkappThe MS Nordkapp is anchored in the sheltered harbour of Whalers Bay on Deception Island and efforts are being made to transfer passengers onto a sister ship, the MS Nordnorge, which has 30 more Australian passengers onboard. "The weather conditions in the area are good and the situation is under control. All passengers will be transported back to Ushuaia in southern Argentina with the help of MS Nordnorge, which is also part of the Hurtigruten fleet, and other vessels in the vicinity". The MS Nordnorge is expected to reach the MS Nordkapp by 5pm Sydney time. "The families of the Australian passengers have all been contacted this morning by MyPlanet or travel agents. "MyPlanet is currently doing everything possible to help passengers and next-of-kin, and to assist the relevant authorities as much as possible. "At present, MyPlanet has no further information about practical issues, but is currently working on finding out as much as possible in order to provide further advice and assistance during the day."