Passengers rescued from Antarctica ship

Russian vessel Akademik Shokalskiy's 52 passengers airlifted to safety, but roughly 20 crew members remain on board.

Last updated: 02 Jan 2014 16:37
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Passengers helped to stamp out a place for the Chinese helicopter to land [AP]

All passengers have been rescued from Akademik Shokalskiy, a Russian research vessel stranded in Antarctica, rescuers say.

The 52 passengers were airlifted to safety on Thursday, after more than a week of waiting on the icebound boat.

The ships roughly 20 crew will be given extra supplies and remain on the vessel until it can break free, according to UK's Guardian newspaper, which has two journalists onboard.


"Aurora Australis has advised AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority) that the 52 passengers from the Akademik Shokalskiy are now on board," the AMSA said.

Passengers were flown from the Akademik Shokalskiy to the Aurora Australis, an Australian government supply ship, in groups of 12 using a helicopter from a Chinese ice-breaker.

"We've made it to the Aurora Australis safe and sound. A huge thanks to the Chinese and the [government's] Australian Antarctic Division for all their hard work," Chris Turney, the expedition leader, said on Twitter.

The Russian vessel had been stranded in ice, 100 nautical miles or 185km east of the French base, Dumont d'Urville, since December 24.

Multiple ice-breaking attempts failed to reach the stranded vessel in the days leading up to Thursday's successful mission.

China's Snow Dragon came within six-and-a-half nautical miles, or 12km, of the research vessel on December 28, but had to turn back when it reached impenetrable ice.

Passengers were airlifted from a makeshift landing pad on the ice beside the Akademik Shokalskiy to an ice floe near the Australian government supply ship.

The rescue mission was completed in close to four hours.


Al Jazeera and agencies
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