The rest of the people rescued will spend another night at a Uruguayan base on the Antarctic island of King George, but will be flown out when the weather allows it, Eugenia Mancilla, the regional governor, said. 

Passengers rescued 

The Canadian-chartered passenger ship sank on Friday evening, hours after hitting the iceberg.

"There was wind, and it was very cold, and we were wet because of the waves"

Andrea Salas, Explorer crew member
All the 91 passengers, 54 crew members and nine other employees escaped on lifeboats and were later picked up by a Norwegian boat.

"There was wind, and it was very cold, and we were wet because of the waves," Andrea Salas, one of the crew members, told Argentina's radio Continental.

She said the passengers and crew spent three to four hours on lifeboats before they were rescued.

Lieutenant-Colonel Waldemar, chief of the Uruguayan base, said: "They were fortunate because other ships just happened to be in the area and came to their aid rapidly.

"The seas were calm and there weren't any storms. That doesn't happen often in Antarctica."

Heading home

The Canadian GAP Adventures company that ran the cruise earlier said that it was making arrangements to fly the passengers to their various home countries.

The Explorer sank hours after hitting
an iceberg off Antarctica [AFP]
The passengers came from Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, China, Denmark, Holland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Switzerland and the United States.

They had paid $8,000 a cabin for a two-week cruise around Antarctica.

"I'm so relieved, I'm happy that everyone made it off the ship, because it could have been a big disaster," Eli Charne of California said.

"It's certainly nice to be on the way home now. I'm just really glad to be around still," he said, wearing borrowed clothing and carrying a life jacket from the ship.