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Argentine icebreaker catches fire in South Atlantic

The Argentine navy's icebreaking ship caught fire off Patagonia, and all 296 aboard were rescued after hours in lifeboats in the chilly waters, the armed forces said Wednesday.

A fire broke out in the Almirante Irizar's generator area late Tuesday, and Capt. Guillermo Tarapow ordered all aboard to abandon ship in 24 lifeboats when the flames became uncontrollable, according to a military statement.

An oil tanker and a fishing vessel rushed to the area and plucked the crew from the South Atlantic waters off the remote Patagonian city of Puerto Madryn, 930 miles (1,500 kilometers) south of the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires. The military did not report any injuries and didn't give a cause for the fire.

The Almirante Irizar was acquired by the Argentine navy in 1978 and has played key roles in transporting military personnel and scientists to and from bases that Argentina operates in Antarctica. It also has been involved in rescue missions in the region.

The high command said the ship was sailing from Ushuaia, the southernmost city in Argentina, to the capital, 1,515 miles (2,370 kilometers) to the north.

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