Navy frogmen from Chile plunged into icy Antarctic waters on Thursday and sealed the tanks of a grounded Peruvian scientific ship to stop an oil leak that caused a half-mile-long slick, the navy said.
The leak ceased entirely by mid-afternoon, and Chilean sailors set out floating booms around the vessel, the Humboldt, to stop further spread of the oil, the navy said in a communique issued in Punta Arenas, 1,550 miles south of Santiago.
A navy spokesman in Punta Arenas, Lt. Cristian Carbone, told reporters by telephone that "our priority task at this point is to contain the spill. Floating the Humboldt comes next."
He said the crews are operating out of the cutter Yelcho.
The Humboldt ran aground shortly before midnight Sunday at the entrance of Marion Cove, on King George Island. All 64 scientists and sailors aboard were rescued by the British navy's ice patrol ship Endurance.