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Small cruise ship runs aground off Greenland

A small cruise ship ran aground off Greenland's west coast and more than 50 people were evacuated safely Wednesday, the tour operator said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A small cruise ship ran aground off Greenland's west coast and more than 50 people were evacuated safely Wednesday, the tour operator said.

The Disko II hit rocks near the island of Qeqertarsuaq, but was not believed to be seriously damaged, said Soeren Rasmussen of the Danish tour operator Albatros Travel.

The 52 passengers — all Danes — and two tour guides were taken ashore as a precaution on the ship's lifeboats and small vessels sent from a village on the island, Rasmussen said. The 18-member crew remained aboard.

"Hitting rocks is always something that has to be taken very seriously but people took it very calmly, there was no danger," Rasmussen said.

"No damage to the ship or its double hull has been found," he said, adding that the Disko II had been built to sail in Arctic waters.

The passengers would remain in Qeqertarsuaq, about 155 miles north of the Arctic Circle, while authorities investigated whether the ship could continue its cruise north to Uummannaq, about 310 miles farther north.

The cruise had started in Kangerlussuaq, the site of a former U.S. Air Force base in southwestern Greenland.

The Disko II was built in 1992 to sail passengers along Greenland's west coast during the ice-free months and was converted into a cruise ship in 2004.

The worst accident off Greenland in recent decades happened in 1959, when all 95 passengers and crew members on the Danish liner Hans Hedtoft were killed when the ship sank on its maiden voyage to Denmark in a storm off the southern tip of Greenland.