UK & World News

  • 30 December 2013, 19:39

Antarctic Ship: Helicopter To Rescue Passengers

Passengers on a ship trapped in Antarctic ice for nearly a week will be evacuated by helicopter as soon as possible, Russian officials say.

The majority of passengers and crew will be removed by a Chinese helicopterafter the latest bid to free the vessel failed.

The MV Akademik Shokalskiy ship has been stuck since Christmas Eve after blizzard winds pushed sea ice around the ship, freezing it in place.

The ship is not in danger of sinking, and there are weeks' worth of supplies for those on board, but the vessel cannot move.

A statement by the Russian foreign ministry read: "A decision has been reached to evacuate 52 passengers and four crew members by helicopter from China's Xue Long ship, should the weather allow."

It was unclear what would happen to the remaining 18 passengers on the ship.

The Australian Aurora Australis ship abandoned the latest rescue attempt becauseof 30-knot winds, snow showers and poor visibility.

Speaking before the rescue attempt was abandoned, Aurora Australis captain Murray Doyle said ramming the ice around the trapped ship was his "first option".

The Aurora Australis had moved back into open water but may make further rescue attemptsonce weather conditions improve.

A Chinese vessel, The Snow Dragon, is also in the area after it failed to reach the ice-locked ship during a rescue bid last week.

The scientific team on board the MV Akademik Shokalskiy research ship had been recreating Australian explorer Douglas Mawson's century-old voyage to Antarctica.

It left New Zealand on November 28.

Before the Australian rescue mission was called off, ship passenger Terry Gostlow said passengers were in good spirits.

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