Passengers on board a research ship that has been trapped in Antarctic ice for more than a week are expected to be rescued by helicopter within hours. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority's Rescue Coordination Centre said today that weather conditions had improved in the area and rescue operations were likely to commence shortly. The 74 scientists, tourists, and crew are on the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy, which has been stuck since Christmas Eve.
Icebreakers had previously failed to get through the ice, and the helicopter rescue had also been delayed by bad weather. The center said the helicopter on board the Chinese-flagged vessel Snow Dragon will be used to rescue 52 scientists and tourists, a dozen at a time. All 22 crew members are expected to stay with their icebound vessel, which is not in danger.