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'No danger' for cruise ship stuck in Antarctic ice: navy

Undated file picture of passengers cruising on a small boat in front the "Ocean Nova" cruise liner in Antarctica. The "Ocean Nova" ran aground on February 17, 2009 early morning near San Martin Base in Antarctica with 74 passengers and 30 crew members. The Chilean Navy together with the Argentinian Coordinating Center of Maritime Rescue of Ushuaia are taking care of the rescue. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Buenos Aires (AFP) Feb 17, 2009
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 Tuesday.

The Ocean Nova, a 73-meter 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 defense 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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Belgium opens scientific base in Antarctica
Utsteinen, Antarctica (AFP) Feb 15, 2009
Belgium opened a new scientific research centre in Antarctica Sunday -- 40 years after its last polar base there.

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