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Saturday, November 24, 2007
Cruise Ship Sinks in Antarctica’s Record Breaking Ice Season

By Eugenio Hackbart / MetSul Weather Center – Brazil

A Canadian cruise ship struck submerged ice off Antarctica and began sinking Friday, but all 154 people on board, including Americans and Britons, took to lifeboats and were plucked to safety by another cruise liner. The Explorer struck submerged ice and began taking on water through its cracked hull. Photos released by the Chilean navy showed the ship later lying nearly on its side, surrounded by floating blocks of ice. Passenger and crew were picked up by a passing Norwegian cruise ship, the Nordnorge, after several hours in eight semi-rigid lifeboats and four life rafts. “There is ice in the area. Obviously it’s a hazard’, said Susan Hayes of G.A.P. Adventures of Toronto, which owns the stricken MS Explorer. “But it’s highly unusual (that the ship would hit the ice), she told the Associated Press.

This naval disaster is no coincidence. Tours to the region became popular and the accident happens in a period market by unusual cold in the southern hemisphere. Explorer hit the iceberg in the same week that we at MetSul Weather Center reported here at ICECAP about major problems in the Brazilian Antarctic Base of Comandante Ferraz due to the excessive amount of ice and snow surrounding the installation that was preventing local researchers of getting fresh water in the nearby lakes. For months we have been reporting and commenting here at ICECAP about South America’s very harsh winter in 2007 with snowfall events and temperature averages not seen in decades. Last month, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Polar Research Group indicated the southern hemisphere’s sea ice area reached 16.17 million square kilometers, narrowly breaking the old record of 16.03 million square kilometers. The record data goes back to 1979.  Read more and see more amazing photos here.


Posted on 11/24 at 03:48 PM
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