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Australia's flagship icebreaker runs aground in Antarctica, 37 crew members rescued

By Dmitry Rashnitsov   |   Feb. 26, 2016 at 1:53 PM

HOBART, Australia, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Australian authorities on Friday rescued 37 people from an icebreaker that ran aground in Antarctica.

Australia's flagship ice-breaking vessel Aurora Australis was carrying 68 expeditioners and crew when it hit rocks and breached its hull in Antarctica's Horseshoe Harbor on Wednesday, the Australian Antarctic Division said

For Friday's rescue, AAD said a barge ferried the 37 expedition members to the Mawson research station after weather conditions improved. An additional 31 crew members remain on the ice breaker to get the vessel back on the water.

Since 1989, the 95-meter-long 4,000 ton ship has sailed across the Pacific Rim while breaking ice up to 1.2 meters thick. The ship is designed to cope with heavy seas and contains laboratories used for biological, oceanographic and meteorological research. It also has a gym, library and recreation areas.

A specialist U.S. Lockheed LC-130 ski plane was scheduled Saturday to collect a separate group of explorers the stricken icebreaker had been set to pick up at Davis research center.

The group will be flown to Casey research stations, both run by Australia, where they will be flown home by the Australian Antarctic Division's A319 Airbus.

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