An Australian icebreaker carrying 52 passengers who were retrieved from an icebound ship in the Antarctic was told to halt its journey home today after a Chinese vessel involved in the dramatic rescue became concerned that it, too, may get stuck in the heavy sea ice. The icebreaker Aurora Australis had been slowly cracking through thick ice toward open water after a Chinese helicopter yesterday plucked the passengers from their stranded Russian research ship and carried them to the Aurora.
But this afternoon, the crew of a Chinese icebreaker that had provided the helicopter said they were worried about their own ship's ability to move through the ice. The Aurora—which was carrying the passengers to the Australian island state of Tasmania—was told to stay in the area in case the Chinese icebreaker Snow Dragon needs help. The Snow Dragon, which is at the edge of the ice pack surrounding the Russian vessel, will attempt to push through the ice to open water tomorrow; the Aurora is waiting about 7 miles away.