One person died and four others were injured after a “rogue wave” hit the Viking Polaris cruise ship while it was sailing toward Ushuaia, Argentina, on Tuesday night, officials said.
“It is with great sadness that we confirmed a guest passed away following the incident,” Viking said in a statement Thursday. “We have notified the guest’s family and shared our deepest sympathies. We will continue to offer our full support to the family in the hours and days ahead.”
The name and hometown of the passenger was not released, but Argentine authorities identified her as a 62-year-old American who was hit by broken glass when the wave broke cabin windows, according to The Associated Press.
The four other guests had non-life-threatening injuries and received treatment from doctors and medical staff onboard.
Rogue waves, or extreme storm waves, are uncommon, unpredictable and “greater than twice the size of surrounding waves,” according to the National Ocean Service. They are described as “walls of water” in most reports.
Suzie Gooding, who was on the ship when the incident happened, recalled feeling like they’d hit an iceberg, according to NBC affiliate WRAL of Raleigh, North Carolina.
“Everything was fine until the rogue wave hit, and it was just sudden. Shocking,” Gooding told the news station. “We didn’t know if we should get our gear ready for abandoning ship.”
The ship “sustained limited damage during the incident” and arrived in Ushuaia Wednesday afternoon, Viking said in its statement.
“We are investigating the facts surrounding this incident and will offer our support to the relevant authorities,” the company said. “Our focus remains on the safety and wellbeing of our guests and crew, and we are working directly with them to arrange return travel.”
The Viking Polaris’ next departure, the Antarctic Explorer cruise scheduled for Dec. 5-17, was canceled due to the incident.