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West Suburban Business Leaders Stranded On Ship In Antarctic

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Iceberg off Antarctic Peninsula
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SOUTH GEORGIA ISLAND, Antarctica (CBS) — Two west suburban business leaders are stranded on a ship in the one of the coldest places in the world.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports, the ship carrying Janis Christiansen – president of FlagSource in Batavia – and Bob Bonifas, founder of Alarm Detection Systems in Aurora, has been stranded in the Antarctic since Tuesday.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports

The Placinus, a 291-foot former oceanographic research and cruise ship, made it into port just off the Antarctic Peninsula almost a week ago. But power failures have prevented the ship from moving on.

Another ship is making the six-day trip to rescue the 73 passengers on the ship. They are stranded onboard the ship at South Georgia Island near the peninsula.

“The island is part of a remote and inhospitable collections of islands, consisting of South Georgia and a chain of smaller islands, known as the South Sandwich Islands,” said Katherine Quintero, a spokesman for Bonifas.

Bonifas’ daughter, Connie Busby, said her father received a letter aboard the ship that the cruise line is sending another boat to them, which will take six days.

“It will take six days to get them back to South America, so it sounds like it will be 16 days in all,” she said.

According to Quintero, trouble started 12 days into a 31-day journey from Ushuaia, Argentina, one of the southernmost cities in the world, to Ascension Island, an isolated volcanic island near the Equator.

After returning from a small island, the ship suffered a complete power failure. The crew was able to fix the problem and set course for Tristan de Cunha heading north in order to avoid a fierce storm system, Quintero said. En route, the ship suffered another engine failure.

The crew believed the ship could complete the cruise around the islands, but the situation took a turn for the worse when it could no longer reach full power. The ship then returned to Grytviken in the South Georgia Islands where it currently sits in the harbor.

Passengers were notified via letter Thursday that the present circumstances would make it dangerous to sail in open ocean in rough conditions.

Once the rescue ship arrives, it will bring the passengers to Montevideo, Uruguay.

Bonifas, a longtime world traveler, has visited 800 of the world’s 872 countries, according to Quintero.

“Although our journey is cut short, the true merit lies in the attempt,” Bonifas said via satellite phone. “When you have been to as many place as we have, the risk-reward scenario gets greater as fewer destinations are left on the map to visit.”

The Aurora Beacon-News contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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