From: Reuters
Published November 27, 2007 07:43 PM

Chile aims to clear fuel slick from Antarctic ship

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile said on Tuesday it sent a navy icebreaker to disperse a diesel fuel slick left by a cruise ship that sank in Antarctic waters last week.

More than 150 passengers and crew were evacuated safely by lifeboats on Friday from the Canadian-owned ship Explorer that hit ice off King George Island in Antarctica.

The boat sank hours later and is sitting on the ocean floor at a depth of some 4,921 feet.

"Considering the depth, the presence of ice, the effect of the wind and the currents and the absence of technology to contain spills on open seas and at depths of more than 1,000 meters (3,280 feet), it is only viable to disperse the slick mechanically," the Chilean navy said in a statement.

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The growing number of tourists landing in Antarctica, mainly from cruise ships, has raised fears over the impact they could have on the continent's fragile environment.

With the traffic, there is concern that a large ship could sink in the Antarctic and cause an environmental and human disaster.

King George Island lies about 700 miles south of Cape Horn, the tip of South America, and is the largest of the South Shetland islands.

(Reporting by Antonio de la Jara; writing by Pav Jordan; editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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