A group of shipwrecked holidaymakers, some still clutching life jackets have been airlifted from Antarctica after their cruise ship struck ice and sank. More than 150 passengers and crew escaped unhurt after being evacuated by lifeboat on Friday from the stricken ship Explorer off King George island.
Some of the passengers described their experience: “The worst moment was being in the lifeboats because we were there for four or five hours and it was very cold and we were very exposed. That was very difficult.” “We grabbed our thermals before we left, that was it. The rest is gone. “It was cold, it was wet, but we managed. And now we’re going home.”
The growing number of tourists landing in Antarctica, mainly from cruise ships, has raised fears over the impact it could have on the continent’s fragile ecology. In addition there is the issue of the size and type of vessels operating in dangerous southern waters and the potential for an environmental and human disaster if a large ship should sink in Antarctic seas.