Ninety-seven crew members have been rescued from a Chinese factory fishing ship which caught fire just off the coast of Antarctica.
The crew members abandoned the burning Kai Xin on Wednesday and were taken aboard the Norwegian vessel Juvel about 55km from Chile's Bernardo O'Higgins research base near the northern tip of the Antarctic peninsula, Chilean officials said.
The ship was not immediately at risk of sinking, and nearby vessels could tow it away from the Antarctic coast if necessary, officials said.
Captain Juan Marcelo Villegas, maritime governor for Chile's portion of Antarctica, told The Associated Press that Chile's navy could send a tugboat from Punta Arenas, near the southern tip of South America, to tow the ship to harbour as long as it remained seaworthy.
Chile's air force was preparing a second flight for Thursday to check on the vessel's condition. The Kai Xin left port in Uruguay and Chilean officials did not know how much fuel it was carrying, Villegas said.
"At the moment the weather conditions are pretty favourable. There's little wind and the ocean conditions are good, so, for the moment, there's no imminent risk of sinking," Villegas said.
China's Panamanian-flagged Skyfrost ship was approaching the area and would be able to take on the rescued sailors, he said.
The environmental group Greenpeace said the crippled Chinese ship is part of an international fleet of about 50 vessels authorised by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources to fish off the Antarctic coast.
The commission is meeting in July in Berlin to discuss the possible creation of large Antarctic marine reserves.