Utah Woman Safe After Vacation Vessel Sinks Off Antartica

Utah Woman Safe After Vacation Vessel Sinks Off Antartica

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AP Photo / Chile's NavyAlex Cabrero reporting

The MS Explorer disaster off the coast of Antarctica is being compared to the Titanic tragedy, except in this case everyone got off the ship OK.

One woman onboard is from Salt Lake City. Eyewitness News spoke to her brother this afternoon, who says he's finally getting some good news.

Robert Paisola says it's been the longest two days of his life. His sister and his aunt were on board that ship. When he found out it was sinking and everyone was ordered into lifeboats, he didn't know what to think.

It was even more frustrating when he wasn't getting any answers from the cruise company, but now, finally, he feels better about the entire situation.

Every time there's a new picture of a lifeboat, Paisola strains his eyes looking for his sister. "Lisa has not been able to contact anybody since that first phone call," Robert explained.

Lisa Paisola, his sister, was looking for a big adventure when she booked a cruise to Antarctica, and certainly got one. "She is an adventurer. She's traveled all throughout the world, and this is the last continent she has not been able to go to," Robert said.

She made it there, but not in the way she was planning. Her boat, the MS Explorer owned by GAP Adventures, started sinking. That's where the lifeboats come in.

"In order to pass time, the passengers imagined they were on a whale watching expedition. They didn't find whales, but I understand they found some penguins," Robert said.

Fortunately, they also saw a Norwegian cruise ship, which heard the distress call and picked up all 154 passengers from 14 nations.

The ship took them to King George Island on Antarctica. They'll be flown to Chile, and then home.

"The Chilean government have been excellent. Their organization has been outstanding and they are doing everything possible," explained Julie Shiels, consul of the Austrailian Embassy.

Captain Arnvid Hansen, captain of the Norwegian rescue ship, said, "There has been no complaining of injuries. They were a little bit cold when they came on board, but being inside of a ship they are in good conditions now."

That's good news for Robert, who has been on the phone almost non-stop talking to media from around the world, trying to get answers from the tour company, and calling different governments to make sure rescue efforts were being done. "We're gonna do whatever it takes, through whatever means we have, to make sure that they're taken care of," he said.

Robert says he knows his sister and aunt will make it back home safely, but he almost won't let himself believe it fully until he's actually hugging them.

He's keeping a blog of updates he hears. If you'd like to follow them, click the related link.

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