Tourists stranded on Antarctic explorer

11th April 2012, Comments 0 comments

Some 70 tourists are stranded on board a Dutch polar exploration ship at South Georgia Island in the southern Atlantic after the ship experienced a partial engine failure, its owner said Wednesday.

The Plancius was lying under anchor off a pier in a bay outside South Georgia's small port of Grytviken -- a former whaling station and now a popular stop-off spot for cruise ships visiting Antarctica, Mark van der Hulst said.

"The ship is anchored off a pier in South Georgia after suffering partial loss of her engine. She is safe and sound and there is no danger for passengers," Van der Hulst of Oceanwide Marine Services told AFP.

"She is waiting for another passenger ship to pick them up and bring them to Montevideo, from where they will be flown home," he added.

The 89-metre (291 feet) long Plancius was then expected to make her way under own steam to Montevideo for an inspection, said Van der Hulst.

Dutch tour operator Inezia, who organises the Atlantic Odyssey tours mainly as a bird-watching expedition, said the ship experienced engine trouble on Tuesday afternoon after first leaving the Argentinian port of Ushuaia on March 29.

"It had visited Antarctica and was on its way through the Atlantic to the Cape Verdean islands," Inezia's owner Pieter van der Luit said.

He said the tourists on board were mainly Dutch and from the United States, had plenty of provisions and were in no danger.

Both Van der Hulst and Van der Luit confirmed a second ship had been arranged to fetch the stranded tourists but could not say when it would arrive in the British Overseas Territory, some 2,150 kilometres (1,345 miles) east of Tierra del Fuego on the southern tip of South America.

© 2012 AFP

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