A “rogue wave” kills an American woman and injures four others on a cruise ship in Antarctica

An American woman was killed and four other passengers were injured when a huge wave collided with a cruise ship in Antarctica during a storm as it was sailing from the southern tip of South America, officials said Friday. Argentine authorities said the 62-year-old woman was hit by broken glass when the wave shattered cabin windows late Tuesday.

The Viking Polaris cruise ship was sailing toward Ushuaia in Argentina – the main embarkation point for expeditions to Antarctica – when there was a “vicious wave incident,” a representative for the cruise company Viking said. he said in a statement.

“It is with great sadness that we have confirmed the death of the guest following the accident. We have informed the guest’s family and shared our deepest sympathies,” the statement said.

Argentina - Norway - Antarctica - Accident
The Viking Polaris is seen anchored in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean in Ushuaia, southern Argentina, on December 1, 2022.

ALEXIS DELISI/AFP via Getty Images


Neither the Vikings’ statement nor the Argentine Navy County identified the woman or her birthplace.

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 spokesperson said. “Out of respect for the family during this difficult time, we have no further comment.”

The cruise line said four other tourists “suffered non-life-threatening injuries” and were treated on board.

“We wondered if we’d hit an iceberg,” Susie Gooding, a cyclist from North Carolina, said. said WRAL-TV. “And there are no icebergs here, but that’s how it felt.”

Gooding told the station that the impact of the wave was “terrifying”.

“Everything was fine until the rogue wave hit, and it was sudden. Shocking,” Gooding said. “We didn’t know if we should get our equipment ready to abandon ship.”

The ship sustained minor damage and docked off Ushuaia, 3,200 kilometers (about 2,000 miles) from the capital, Buenos Aires, with several windows blown out on its side, AFP journalists reported.

Viking said it was “investigating the facts surrounding this incident”.

Scientists often refer to rogue waves as intense storm waves that shoot out of nowhere, often in an unpredictable direction, and can appear as a steep wall of water, up to twice the size of surrounding waves.

These rare killer waves were seen as a myth reported by sailors or explorers. Polar explorer Ernest Shackleton In his book, he wrote about a strange “giant” wave he encountered in Antarctica in 1916.

However, scientists have learned more about them in recent decades, studying how they appear and how to predict the wall of water that can rise even in calm seas.

Viking Polaris, launched in 2022, is the newest ship in the company’s fleet.

The accident comes two weeks after the deaths of two tourists on another Antarctic cruise. The two men, aged 76 and 80, left the World Explorer ship for a ride on an inflatable Zodiac boat that capsized near shore.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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