5 Dec 2008

Chilean navy set to pick up cruise passengers

10:07 pm on 5 December 2008

Passengers on a cruise ship grounded in Antarctica are expected to begin boarding a Chilean navy vessel on Friday.

Panamanian-flagged vessel the Usuaia sailed from Argentina on Sunday and ran aground in Wilhelmina Bay, part of a peninsula that reaches towards the southern tip of South America.

The Ushuaia is carrying 89 passengers, including 11 Australians and one New Zealander, plus 33 crew members.

None are thought to have been seriously injured.

A hole in the ship's fuel tank has been sealed, but some diesel has spilled into the bay.

Greg Mortimer, managing director of Aurora Expeditions, which also has a ship nearby, says it is not yet known how the Ushuaia ran aground, but it is hoped the fuel spill will be minor.