Arctic nations are unprepared for a major shipwreck in the region, a recent study has concluded.
According to a report in the Arctic Journal, Marc Jacobsen of the Washington, D.C.-based Arctic Institute modeled a scenario in which the cruise liner Costa Deliziosa struck an iceberg off the coast of the town of Ilulissat, in western Greenland.
The hypothetical incident - which Jacobsen modeled as taking place at night in the summer, in largely open water populated by drift ice - resulted in a 50-meter hole in the ship's hull. Several hundred people would need treatment, requiring transportation that would be "extremely comprehensive, very time consuming and therefore very likely leave thousands of passengers behind in Ilulissat," a town of 4,500 inhabitants.
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The Arctic Council adopted a Search and Rescue Plan in 2011 specifically to address such accidents. (The council's membership comprises the eight nations with Arctic territory -- the United States, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.) But, Jacobsen argued at a conference in Norway last month, the huge distances and limited infrastructure in the region mean that the plan is inadequate for a disaster involving a ship of such size.