Glacier sparks harmful wave


Summary

The ship was carrying 72 people off the Svalbard Islands in the Arctic, injuring 18, two seriously, according to police and the tour operator

VIDEO: Icy accident

Jan Tommervold, a deputy sheriff on Svalbard, said the Alexey Maryshev, a Russian research vessel converted into a luxury sightseeing boat, was hit by the ice late Wednesday.

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All fifty passengers were British, the tour operator said.

"There were 18 people injured," Mr Tommervold said by telephone.

"Four were flown to the hospital in Tromsoe (on the mainland), two of them with serious injuries."

He said the remaining 14 injured people were taken to a local hospital.

The remote Arctic islands are about 1,000 kilometres from the North Pole and about 500 kilometres north of the Norwegian mainland.

They are a popular tourist destination during the summer, with about 20 similar ships cruising the region in season.

According to police, the ship had sailed close to the towering Horn glacier at Svalbard for a better look when ice broke off and hit the vessel's side as well as its deck, where some passengers had gathered.

"The Russian captain said they were tight into the Horn glacier when it calved" – or gave birth to ice chunks – said another deputy, Petter Braathen.

Investigation could be launched

He said blocks of ice crashed into the water near the ship.

The vessel listed and was tossed back and forth by the waves so "the passengers were thrown around on the ship," he said.

The 66-metre-long ship returned to port under its own power and was awaiting a possible investigation, said Mr Tommervold.

Mr Braathen said sightseeing ships routinely sail close to the glaciers but "not as close as this."

Ko de Korte of Oceanwide Expeditions, the Dutch Company that operates the ship, said by telephone from the Netherlands that there were 72 people aboard, including 50 British passengers and 22 crew and staff.

"The company director is on his way (to Svalbard)," he said.

"We have been operating since 1982 and this is our first accident… so this is serious."

The Alexey Maryshev was built in Finland in 1990 as a research vessel for the Hydrographic Institute of St. Petersburg.

It is under long term contract by Oceanwide Expeditions, and was converted to passenger use in the Netherlands.


The ship was carrying 72 people off the Svalbard Islands in the Arctic, injuring 18, two seriously, according to police and the tour operator

VIDEO: Icy accident

Jan Tommervold, a deputy sheriff on Svalbard, said the Alexey Maryshev, a Russian research vessel converted into a luxury sightseeing boat, was hit by the ice late Wednesday.

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All fifty passengers were British, the tour operator said.

"There were 18 people injured," Mr Tommervold said by telephone.

"Four were flown to the hospital in Tromsoe (on the mainland), two of them with serious injuries."

He said the remaining 14 injured people were taken to a local hospital.

The remote Arctic islands are about 1,000 kilometres from the North Pole and about 500 kilometres north of the Norwegian mainland.

They are a popular tourist destination during the summer, with about 20 similar ships cruising the region in season.

According to police, the ship had sailed close to the towering Horn glacier at Svalbard for a better look when ice broke off and hit the vessel's side as well as its deck, where some passengers had gathered.

"The Russian captain said they were tight into the Horn glacier when it calved" – or gave birth to ice chunks – said another deputy, Petter Braathen.

Investigation could be launched

He said blocks of ice crashed into the water near the ship.

The vessel listed and was tossed back and forth by the waves so "the passengers were thrown around on the ship," he said.

The 66-metre-long ship returned to port under its own power and was awaiting a possible investigation, said Mr Tommervold.

Mr Braathen said sightseeing ships routinely sail close to the glaciers but "not as close as this."

Ko de Korte of Oceanwide Expeditions, the Dutch Company that operates the ship, said by telephone from the Netherlands that there were 72 people aboard, including 50 British passengers and 22 crew and staff.

"The company director is on his way (to Svalbard)," he said.

"We have been operating since 1982 and this is our first accident… so this is serious."

The Alexey Maryshev was built in Finland in 1990 as a research vessel for the Hydrographic Institute of St. Petersburg.

It is under long term contract by Oceanwide Expeditions, and was converted to passenger use in the Netherlands.