All passengers rescued from icebound ship

2014-01-02 14:49
A helicopter from the nearby Chinese icebreaker Xue Long above passengers from the stranded Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy as the first helicopter rescue takes place. (Andrew Peacock, AFP)

A helicopter from the nearby Chinese icebreaker Xue Long above passengers from the stranded Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy as the first helicopter rescue takes place. (Andrew Peacock, AFP)

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Sydney - All 52 passengers were airlifted on Thursday from a Russian research vessel icebound in Antarctica and are safe on board an Australian supply ship, rescuers said.

"Aurora Australis has advised AMSA that the 52 passengers from the Akademik Shokalskiy are now on board", the Australian maritime safety authority said.

Passengers were flown to the Australian ship in groups of 12 by a helicopter from a Chinese icebreaker.

The Akademik Shokalsky has been stuck in ice since 24 December 100 nautical miles east of the French base Dumont d'Urville, with several icebreaking attempts failing to reach it.

After a number of false starts a helicopter evacuation of the research vessel's passengers began on Thursday evening, with official confirmation that it was underway reaching AMSA at 18:15, Australia time.

The Australian agency, which is co-ordinating the rescue mission, reported all passengers were safely on board the Aurora Australis, an Australian government supply ship at 22:15 some four hours later.

Passengers were airlifted from a makeshift landing pad on the ice beside the Russian ship to an ice floe near the Australis.

Expedition leader Chris Turney expressed relief that the wait was finally over.

Read more on:    russia  |  antarctica  |  australia

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