“Rogue wave” killed an American woman, injured four others on an Antarctic cruise ship
An American woman was killed and four passengers were injured when a huge wave hit an Antarctic cruise ship during a storm as it sailed off the southernmost tip of South America, officials said Friday. A 62-year-old woman was hit by broken glass when a wave smashed the cabin’s windows late Tuesday, Argentine authorities said.
The Viking Polaris cruise ship was sailing towards Ushuaia, Argentina – the main starting point for Antarctic expeditions – when a “rogue wave incident” occurred, a representative for the Viking cruise company said it is stated in the announcement.
“It is with great sadness that we confirm that the guest passed away after the incident. We have informed the guest’s family and expressed our deepest condolences,” the statement said.
Neither Viking’s statement nor Argentina’s maritime prefecture identified the woman or her hometown.
In a statement to CBS News, a spokesperson for the US State Department confirmed the death and offered condolences to the family.
“We offer 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 were wondering if we hit an iceberg,” Suzie Gooding, a passenger from North Carolina, he told WRAL-TV. “There’s no iceberg here, but that’s what it feels like.”
Gooding told the station the impact of the wave was “shocking”.
“Everything was fine until the outlaw wave hit, and it was sudden. Shocking,” Gooding said. “We didn’t know if we should prepare our equipment to abandon ship.”
The ship sustained minor damage and was anchored off Ushuaia, 3,200 kilometers (almost 2,000 miles) from the capital Buenos Aires, with several windows smashed on the side, AFP reporters reported.
Viking said it was “investigating the facts surrounding this incident.”
Scientists often refer to rogue waves as extreme storm surges that appear out of nowhere, often in an unpredictable direction, and can look like a sheer wall of water, up to twice the size of surrounding waves.
These rare killer waves were once seen as a myth reported by sailors or explorers. Polar explorer Ernest Shackleton wrote in his book about the “gigantic” wave of freaks he encountered in Antarctica in 1916.
However, scientists have learned more about them in recent decades, studying how they form and how to predict the wall of water that can grow even in calm seas.
Viking Polaris was launched in 2022 and is the newest ship in the company’s fleet.
The incident occurred two weeks after two tourists died on another Antarctic cruise. The two men, aged 76 and 80, had left the World Explorer on a Zodiac inflatable boat excursion when it capsized near the coast.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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