An American woman was killed and four other passengers injured when a massive wave crashed into an Antarctic cruise ship during a storm as it sailed from the southern tip of South America, authorities said Friday. The 62-year-old woman was struck by broken glass when the wave broke the cabin windows Tuesday night, Argentine authorities said.
The Viking Polaris cruise ship was sailing to Ushuaia in Argentina, the main departure point for expeditions to Antarctica, when there was “a tidal wave incident,” a representative for the Viking cruise company said. said in a statement.
“It is with great sadness that we confirm that a guest has passed away following the incident. We have notified the guest’s family and share our deepest condolences,” the statement said.
Neither the Viking statement nor the Argentine Naval Prefecture identified the woman or her hometown.
In a statement to CBS News, a US State Department spokesperson confirmed the death and offered condolences to the family.
“We are offering all appropriate consular assistance,” the spokesperson said. “Out of respect for the family during this difficult time, we have no further comment.”
Four other tourists “suffered non-life-threatening injuries” and were treated on board, the cruise line said.
“We were wondering if we would hit an iceberg,” Suzie Gooding, a passenger from North Carolina, he told WRAL-TV. “And there are no icebergs here, but that’s how it felt.”
Gooding told the station that the wave’s impact was “shocking.”
“Everything was fine until the rogue wave hit, and it was sudden. Shocking,” Gooding said. “We didn’t know if we should prepare our equipment to jump ship.”
The ship suffered minor damage and was anchored off Ushuaia, 3,200 kilometers (nearly 2,000 miles) from the capital Buenos Aires, with several broken windows on the side, AFP journalists reported.
Viking said it was “investigating the facts surrounding this incident.”
Rogue waves are often referred to by scientists as extreme storm waves that come out of nowhere, often in an unpredictable direction, and can appear as a steep wall of water, up to twice the size of the surrounding waves.
These rare killer waves were once seen as a myth reported by sailors or explorers. the polar explorer ernest shackleton wrote in his book about a “giant” freak wave he encountered in Antarctica in 1916.
However, scientists have learned more about them in recent decades, studying how they emerge and how to predict the wall of water that can arise even in calm seas.
Viking Polaris launched in 2022 and is the newest ship in the company’s fleet.
The incident comes two weeks after two tourists died on another Antarctic cruise. The two men, ages 76 and 80, had left the World Explorer ship for an excursion in an inflatable zodiac that capsized near shore.
Associated Press contributed to this report.