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Cruise ship carrying 206 passengers pulled free from Greenland coast

UPI
Officials said that a cruise ship carrying 206 passengers that ran aground near Greenland was dislodged on Thursday. Photo courtesy of the Joint Arctic Command

Sept. 14 (UPI) -- Crews on Thursday successfully dislodged a cruise ship that ran aground while sailing near northeastern Greenland after multiple failed attempts earlier in the week.

The Joint Arctic Command said in a statement that the fisheries research vessel Tarajoq was able to pull the luxury cruise liner MV Ocean Explorer free at high tide.

Coppenhagen's SunStone Ships, which owns the vessel said the ship was freed via a pull from Tarajoq and "the vessel's own power."

"There have not been any injuries to any person onboard, no pollution of the environment and no breach of the hull," Sunstone said.

The ship is set to be taken to a port where crews will assess the damages and passengers will be flown home.

The Danish Defense on Wednesday said that all 206 passengers and crew on the ship were "safe," and that the Joint Arctic Command was aiding in the rescue efforts.

"That the ship is far from the beaten track is illustrated by the fact that the inspection vessel Knud Rasmussen most likely will not arrive until Friday," the Danish Defense said. "The inspection vessel must first cover the 1,200 nautical miles from the place Knud Rasmussen was when the report of the grounding came in."

The Ocean Explorer had been traveling toward Northeast Greenland National Park when the ship ran aground near Alpefjord in the national park, some 373 miles north of the Arctic Circle. The agency said the cruise ship tried to free itself to no avail and that rescue vessels were on the way.

Tarajoq tried to pull the Ocean Explore free at high tide on Wednesday but that effort failed.

The Ocean Explorer is run by Australian-based cruise company Aurora Expeditions. The northeast corner of the national park is littered with glaciers, high mountains and icebergs, according to Denmark's Joint Arctic Command.

"We are actively engaged in efforts to free the MV Ocean Explorer, from its grounding," Aurora Expeditions said. "Our foremost commitment is to ensure the vessel's recovery without compromising safety."

Adding to the concerns, Aurora said on Thursday that three passengers on the ship had tested positive for COVID-19 but have been isolated to keep from spreading it to other passengers and crew.