An American woman died and four passengers were injured when a large wave hit an Antarctic cruise ship during a storm while traveling off the southern tip of South America, officials said Friday. A 62-year-old woman was hit by broken glass after a wave broke the cabin’s windows late Tuesday, Argentine officials said.
The Viking Polaris cruise ship was en route to Ushuaia in Argentina — the main starting point for expeditions to Antarctica — when there was “a rogue wave incident,” a Viking cruise company representative said. said in a statement.
“It is with great sadness that we have confirmed that a guest has passed away following this incident. We have notified the guest’s family and share our deepest sympathies,” the statement said.
Neither the Viking report nor the Argentine Naval Prefecture identified the woman or her hometown.
In a statement to CBS News, a US State Department spokesperson confirmed the death and offered condolences to the family.
“We are providing all appropriate consular assistance,” the spokesman said. “Out of respect for the family at this difficult time, we have no further comment.”
Four other tourists “suffered non-life-threatening injuries” and were treated on board, the cruise line said.
“We wondered if we had hit an iceberg,” said traveler Susie Gooding of North Carolina. told WRAL-TV. “And there aren’t any glaciers here, but that’s the way it was.”
Gooding told the station the impact of the wave was “shocking”.
“Everything was fine until the rogue wave hit, and it was sudden. Shock,” Gooding said. “We don’t know if we should prepare our gear to abandon ship.”
The ship suffered minor damage and anchored in Ushuaia, 3,200 kilometers (almost 2,000 miles) from the capital, Buenos Aires, with several windows smashed on the side, AFP journalists said.
Viking said it was “investigating the facts surrounding the incident”.
Scientists often refer to rogue waves as extreme storm waves, which arise out of nowhere, often in unpredictable directions, and look like a steep wall of water twice the size of the surrounding waves.
These rare killer waves were once seen as a myth by mariners or explorers. Polar explorer Ernest Shackleton In 1916 he wrote in his book about a “colossal” freak wave he encountered in Antarctica.
However, scientists have learned more about them in recent decades, studying how they emerge and how to predict the wall of water that can rise even in calm seas.
Viking Polaris was launched in 2022 and is the newest ship in the company’s fleet.
The incident comes two weeks after two tourists died on another Antarctic expedition. Two men, aged 76 and 80, capsized near shore in an inflatable Zodiac boat for an excursion from the World Explorer ship.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.