Chilean ship rescues passengers on cruise liner

Image: Passengers rescued from a cruise ship
Passangers and crew members get on the Chilean Navy ship Aquiles after they were evacuated from the cruise liner Ciudad de Ushuaia, in Wilhelmina Bay, part of the Antarctic peninsula, on Friday.Chilean Army via AFP - Getty Ima
/ Source: The Associated Press

The Chilean navy rescued all 122 people from a leaking cruise ship off Antarctica on Friday.

The Chilean ship Aquiles was transporting the 89 passengers and 33 crew members to the Presidente Frei naval base in Antarctica.

The Panamanian-flagged Ushuaia cruise ship sent out alarms midday Thursday after it started leaking fuel and taking on water, but it never appeared to be in danger of sinking.

A rock damaged the hull as the Ushuaia passed through the Gerlache Strait, Chilean Capt. Pedro Ojeda told Argentina’s Telam news agency. The crash left the boat adrift in Guillermina Bay.

The Chilean navy said the cruise ship was carrying 14 Danish passengers, 12 Americans, 11 Australians, nine Germans, seven Argentines, seven British, 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 in good condition.

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.

On Nov. 24 of 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.