Cruise ship stranded in Antarctic with 122 on board

BUENOS AIRES Thu Dec 4, 2008 7:51pm GMT

1 of 4. The cruise ship Ushuaia is pictured after it ran aground in Antarctic waters, December 4, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Chilean Navy/Handout

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BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - An Antarctic cruise ship carrying 122 passengers and crew started to take on water and leak fuel after it ran aground on Thursday, an Argentine naval official said.

Admiral Daniel Martin told local television a nearby passenger ship was on its way to the stricken Panamanian-flagged vessel, called the Ushuaia after the Tierra del Fuego port from which it sailed in Argentina on Sunday.

He said none of the boat's passengers had been injured.

"We've received information from the captain of the Ushuaia that the boat is grounded ... with a minimal amount of water coming in and some fuel loss," Martin said.

He said the ship lay some 186 miles (300 km) southwest of Argentina's Marambio military base on the Antarctic Peninsula.

Cruise travel has grown in Antarctica in recent years, with tourists paying thousands of dollars to see towering icebergs, seals, whales and penguins.

A year ago, more than 150 crew and passengers, many of them elderly, escaped unhurt in a dramatic rescue after their cruise ship hit ice off Antarctica and sank.

The ship is operated by Antarpply Expeditions, based in Ushuaia.

(Reporting by Helen Popper, Editing by Sandra Maler)

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