A ship on fire in Antarctica resulted in a scramble to rescue the 97 fishermen aboard the Chinese Kai Xin, a report from China’s state-run Xinhua media source said today. A nearby Norwegian factory trawler Juvel picked up the workers on the disabled ship.
The Juvel was working less than 35 miles from the Chilé research station Bernardo O’Higgins near the northern tip of Antarctica and was available to act quickly.
At the moment, despite the fire on the ship and the Antarctic location, the Kai Xin wasn’t in danger of sinking.
Chilé officials said that they currently had good weather and that they planned a fly-over to keep an eye on the abandoned vessel. If necessary, Chilé’s navy could send a tugboat to tow the boat in order to keep it from striking the ecologically fragile Antarctic coast.
China has another ship, the Skyfrost, that is underway to pick up the rescued fishermen.
At the moment, people are understandably jolted by any news of a fire at sea where the risk of being stranded is very real. In February, the world looked on in horror after a fire in the Caribbean left the Carnival Triumph cruise ship stranded for five days without sufficient power, water, or sewer services.
Being stranded in Antarctica is particularly dangerous because people who get hypothermia from being immersed in the cold water could potentially die in minutes.
In 2007, the Chilean navy participated in a well-publicized rescue of the MV Explorer cruise ship, which struck an iceberg in Antarctica and then slowly sank. Despite the icy waters and the destruction of the ship, no lives were lost.
On the high seas, regardless of nationality, people come together to rescue lives at risk from a ship on fire in Antarctica’s dangerous waters.
[Antarctica photo by Vincent van Zeijst via Wikipedia Commons]