Thursday 20 June 2013

Passenger from Quark's Sea Spirit dies in Zodiac accident


Sea Spirit
A passenger from Quark Expeditions' Sea Spirit died after the Zodiac she was on capsized June 17 near Svalbard, Norway. Two others were injured.

"Quark Expeditions Inc. regrets to confirm that an accident has occurred during a Zodiac sightseeing excursion near the 14th of July Glacier, just outside of Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway," Quark said in a prepared statement. "A Zodiac carrying 12 passengers capsized, resulting in the fatality of one passenger and the injury of two other passengers. The injured passengers are not critical but are receiving medical care in Longyearbyen."

According to the Mirror's John Honeywell, the victim was an American woman in her 60's. She and the other 11 passengers fell into the water when their boat was struck by a wave.

File image of passengers
aboard Zodiac RIB (R Eime)
Local authorities received a call for help at noon, local English-language news source Views and News from Norway reported. A rescue helicopter with a doctor onboard was sent, but the woman died before they arrived. Authorities have not yet determined the cause of death, and an investigation is under way.

"Quark Expeditions is doing everything possible to assist those involved and the local authorities during this difficult time," Quark said via its statement.

Sea Spirit is in the midst of a 10-night Spitsbergen Explorer sailing that left Longyearbyen on June 14.

(Editor's note: the water around the glacier is normally calm, so the question must be asked, "was the wave the result of calving ice from the glacier?" Will update this post as more information comes to hand. It should also be pointed out that all operators of Zodiac tenders instruct passengers on safety and lifejacket use, so it is reasonable to assume the passenger was wearing an approved life jacket. Zodiacs are sturdy and exceptionally stable vessels. The capsizing of a Zodiac is likely the result of an extreme event, possibly a rogue wave thrown up from a calving glacier which would not have been detectable by the driver until it began to break over his boat in the shallow water close to shore.)

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