The decision was made by Russian officials after three unsuccessful attempts were made by Chinese, Australian and French icebreakers to rescue the tourists and passengers. Most of the Russian crew members will stay aboard the ship and wait for the ice to either weaken or wait for a U.S. icebreaker, which is scheduled to reach them in the next ten days.
"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," a Russian foreign ministry statement said on Monday.
The ship is well stocked with food and the scientists are continuing with their experiments -- measuring temperature and salinity through cracks in the surrounding ice.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said Monday that the Australian ice breaker Aurora Australis could not break through the ice and that high winds, poor visibility and snow showers hampered the rescue attempt.
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