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52 passengers rescued from stranded Russian ship

The passengers and scientists were airlifted using a Chinese helicopter and transported to the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis.
By Ananth Baliga   |   Jan. 2, 2014 at 9:35 AM   |   Comments

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Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Scientists and passengers trapped aboard the Russian ship Akademik Shokalskiy were finally airlifted to the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis, after being stranded in the Antarctic ice for close to nine days.

The 52 passengers and crew were flown in groups aboard a helicopter from the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long to an ice floe next to the Australian ship and then ferried by small boat.

Twenty-two scientists and crew will remain aboard the Shokalskiy, waiting for the ice to weaken before they steer their ship to safety.

The vessel, which was replicating the route explorer Douglas Mawson traveled a century ago, has been trapped in the ice since Christmas Eve and is currently 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart, capital of Australian state Tasmania.

Expedition leader Chris Turney tweeted, “We've made it to the Aurora australis safe & sound. A huge thanks to the Chinese & @AusAntarctic for all their hard work!”

There was uncertainty as to whether the rescue would take place, as the AMSA had earlier said a rescue attempt was unlikely owing to sea-ice conditions.

The passengers are expected to reach Tasmania by mid-January. This ends the nine-day ordeal, which didn't seem to perturb the scientists who continued with their experiments and even sent out Christmas greetings to friends and family.


[BBC]

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