Helicopter Rescue Set for Ship Stranded in Antarctica

Chopper will lift 52 scientists, tourists, but leave crew

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Jan 1, 2014 4:56 PM CST

(Newser) – 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.

In this Friday, Dec. 27, 2013, file photo, the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy is trapped in thick Antarctic ice 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart, Australia.
In this Friday, Dec. 27, 2013, file photo, the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy is trapped in thick Antarctic ice 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart, Australia.   (AP Photo/Australasian Antarctic Expedition/Footloose Fotography, Andrew Peacock, File)
Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy is trapped in thick Antarctic ice 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart, Australia, Friday, Dec. 27, 2013.
Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy is trapped in thick Antarctic ice 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart, Australia, Friday, Dec. 27, 2013.   (AP Photo/Australasian Antarctic Expedition, Chris Turney)
In this Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 image, passengers from the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy walk around the ice.
In this Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 image, passengers from the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy walk around the ice.   (AP Photo/Australasian Antarctic Expedition/Footloose Fotography, Andrew Peacock)
In this Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 image, passengers from the ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy stamp out a helicopter landing site on the ice near the trapped ship.
In this Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 image, passengers from the ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy stamp out a helicopter landing site on the ice near the trapped ship.   (AP Photo/Australasian Antarctic Expedition/Footloose Fotography, Andrew Peacock)
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