A rogue wave smashed into a cruise ship on an Antarctic voyage Tuesday, leaving an American woman dead.
The incident happened while the Viking Polaris was off the southern tip of South America, according to Fox News.
The name of the 62-year-old woman who was killed was not released.
Four other passengers were injured when the giant wave smashed windows aboard the cruise ship. Their injuries were described as non-life threatening.
‘Rogue wave’ kills person on Antarctic cruise.
One person died and four were injured when a massive wave smashed into an Antarctic cruise ship during a storm as it sailed off the southernmost tip of South Americahttps://t.co/sRyn0J2X68 pic.twitter.com/PCfXiRoMLa
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) December 2, 2022
The ship reached the Argentine port of Ushuaia on Wednesday.
“It is with great sadness that we confirmed a guest passed away following the incident,” Viking said in a statement. “We have notified the guest’s family and shared our deepest sympathies.”
“We are investigating the facts surrounding this incident and will offer our support to the relevant authorities,” the statement said. “Our focus remains on the safety and wellbeing of our guests and crew, and we are working directly with them to arrange return travel.”
“We wondered if we hit an iceberg. And there are no icebergs out here, but that’s how it felt,” she said.
“Everything was fine until the rogue wave hit, and it was just sudden. Shocking,” she said. “We didn’t know if we should get our gear ready for abandoning ship.”
People didn’t used to believe rogue waves existed because they had never personally seen one. They’d only heard stories and known of ships going missing. This is a great allegory for all things paranormal. It doesn’t exist; until it happens to you. https://t.co/QJxKNckCFc
— Astonishing Legends (@AstonshngLegnds) December 2, 2022
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website, “Rogue, freak, or killer waves have been part of marine folklore for centuries, but have only been accepted as real by scientists over the past few decades.”
“Rogues, called ‘extreme storm waves’ by scientists, are those waves which are greater than twice the size of surrounding waves, are very unpredictable, and often come unexpectedly from directions other than prevailing wind and waves,” the NOAA said.
The most common description of these waves is that “they look like ‘walls of water,’” the NOAA said.
Viking said the ship’s next voyage has been canceled. The Viking Polaris, which is new in service this year, can carry 378 passengers and 256 crew members.
As noted in the Guardian, freak waves near Antarctica are not new. In 1916, while sailing a lifeboat through a section of water known as the Drake Passage, explorer Ernest Shackleton noted a massive phenomenon.
“At midnight I was at the tiller and suddenly noticed a line of clear sky between the south and south-west,” he later wrote. “I called to the other men that the sky was clearing, and then a moment later I realized that what I had seen was not a rift in the clouds but the white crest of an enormous wave.”
The boat and crew survived the encounter.