UK & World News

  • 26 December 2013, 4:17

Antarctic Ice Traps Cruise Ship Tourists

A Russian cruise ship with 74 people on board has got stuck in the ice near Antarctica.

The ship, MV Akademik Shokalskiy, is stranded some 1,500 nautical miles south of Tasmania and 100 nautical miles east of the French base Dumont D'Urville.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is co-ordinating the search and rescue, was alerted to the ship's situation by Falmouth Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Cornwall which received a distress signal early on Christmas Day morning.

The Australian authorities have issued a broadcast to icebreaking vessels in the area and three ships are now on their way.

However, the closest vessels are at least two days' sailing time away.

Those on board the ship, which left New Zealand late last month, include explorers, scientists and tourists, as well as crew.

The voyage was planned as part of an expedition to mark the centenary of explorer Douglas Mawson's trip and to get the chance to see Mawson's Huts which have been inaccessible for some time because of an iceberg.

It is not known how the ship became stuck but the AMSA says the vessel is not in any immediate danger.

Those on board had just returned from a 60km trek across pack ice, one organiser of the voyage told Australia's 9news.

Passengers seem to be taking the adventure in their stride, with Australasian Antarctic expedition leader Chris Turney tweeting: "We're in the ice like the explorers of old! All are well and spirits are high. Happy Christmas from the AA."

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