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Tourists rescued after Norwegian ship ran aground in Svalbard

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AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Tourists rescued after Norwegian ship ran aground in Svalbard
Tourists have been rescued from a ship which ran aground in Svalbard. Photo by Vince Gx on Unsplash

Eleven French tourists and four crew members were rescued by helicopter after their ship ran aground in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard in the Arctic, local authorities said Tuesday.

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No one was hurt in the incident, which occurred late Monday, the governor's office said in a press release.

It is not yet known why the tourist vessel MS Isbjorn 2 ran aground in a bay of the Isfjord fjord, in the territory twice the size of Belgium and
located a thousand kilometres (600 miles) from the North Pole.

The 15 people onboard were rescued by helicopter and transported to Longyearbyen, the main town of the archipelago, also known as Spitsbergen.

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"None of the people onboard were physically injured", the authorities said. An investigation was launched to determine the cause of the accident. MS Isbjorn 2 was towed to Longyearbyen.

According to the authorities, no notable oil spill was detected in the fragile ecosystem, where 65 percent of the area is protected.

Tourism, alongside scientific research, is one of the pillars of the economy in Svalbard, having taken over from coal mining, which was the main
activity for a long time.

Before Covid, up to 140,000 people a year visited the archipelago, which is home to fewer than 3,000 inhabitants.

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