Three New Zealanders are among 206 cruise passengers trapped on an expedition vessel near the Arctic Circle.
Now passengers of the luxury cruise claim there are cases of Covid-19 among those onboard and no sign of rescue in remote north east Greenland, until Friday.
Liner MV Ocean Explorer ran aground in the Alpefjord around noon on Monday. Despite several rescue attempts from the Greenland and Danish government, the ship remained stuck in the shallows of the fjord on Wednesday night.
An update from the Arctic Command this morning said that a new attempt by fishing ship Tarajoq to tow the Explorer had ended in failure.
Captain Flemming Madsen of the Danish Joint Arctic Command told the Associated Press that the passengers and crew on the ship stranded in northwestern Greenland were doing fine.
Bad weather has slowed the efforts of the Danish support vessel Knud Rasmussen, which is now not expected to arrive until Friday evening, September 15.
The Bahamas-flagged vessel is operated by Australian cruise line Aurora Expeditions and guests are from a mix of countries, including from the UK, US and Korea, but the majority were from Australia.
Retired couple from Newport, Gina Hill and Steven Fraser, are aboard the ship.
Fraser, who says he has tested positive for Covid-19 aboard the vessel, told the Sydney Morning Herald there are a lot of elderly travellers who are aboard the scenic cruise.
Although there are claims of more Covid cases aboard the stranded ship, he said despite the frustration the general mood is happy.
The MV Ocean Explorer, a Bahamas-flagged Norwegian cruise ship with 206 passengers and crew, has run aground in northwestern Greenland. Photo / AP
“Everyone’s in good spirits,” he said.
They joined the sailing from Pasvik National Park in Norway and were due to sail to Iceland aboard the ship this week.
“It’s a little bit frustrating, but we are in a beautiful part of the world. We’re sitting right near the glacier when we open our window,” they told the Sydney Morning Herald.
In a statement, New South Wales-based Aurora Expeditions said the passengers and crew members were safe and well and that there was “no immediate danger to themselves, the vessel, or the surrounding environment”.
“We are actively engaged in efforts to free the MV Ocean Explorer from its grounding. Our foremost commitment is to ensure the vessel’s recovery without compromising safety,” the statement said.
The cruise line said that they would be able to provide an update on the situation, later today.
A spokeswoman for Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that three New Zealanders are thought to be onboard.
“New Zealand consular officials are in touch with consular partners and local authorities.”
MFAT said that there were no reports of injuries and the stranded Kiwi passengers remained in “good spirits.”
Alpefjord sits in a remote corner of Greenland, some 240km away from the closest settlement, Ittoqqortoormiit, which itself is nearly 1400km from the country’s capital, Nuuk. Passengers were enjoying a cruise to this remote corner of the Northeast Greenland National Park, the most northerly nature reserve in the world.
The Joint Arctic Command operates from Denmark and monitors the polar regions of the unincorporated Kingdom of Denmark, from the Faeroe Islands to Greenland and the high Arctic Ocean.
- With Associated Press
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