Another setback in Antarctic ship rescue

2013-12-28 07:41


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sydney - A Chinese icebreaker that was en route to rescue a ship trapped in Antarctic ice was forced to turn back on Saturday after being unable to push its way through the heavy sea ice.

The Snow Dragon icebreaker came within 11km of the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy, which has been stuck since Christmas Eve, but had to retreat after the ice became too thick, said expedition spokesperson Alvin Stone.

The Akademik Shokalskiy, which has been on a research expedition to Antarctica, got stuck on Tuesday after a blizzard's whipping winds pushed the sea ice around the ship, freezing it in place. The ship wasn't in danger of sinking, and there is weeks' worth of supplies for the 74 scientists, tourists and crew on board, but the vessel cannot move.

Three icebreakers, including the Snow Dragon, have been trying to reach the ship since Wednesday. France's L'Astrolabe made it to the edge of the sea ice surrounding the ship on Saturday, but called off its mission after it, too, failed to break through, said Lisa Martin, spokesperson for the Australian maritime safety authority, which is co-ordinating the rescue.

Continued hope

The third icebreaker, Australia's Aurora Australis, has the best chance of cutting through the ice, and is expected to arrive on Sunday, Martin said. The Snow Dragon will remain in the area in case its help is needed.

"I think we're probably looking at another 24 hours of twiddling our fingers and waiting for something to happen," said Stone, the expedition spokesperson.

The scientific team on board the research ship which left New Zealand on 28 November had been recreating Australian explorer Douglas Mawson's century-old voyage to Antarctica when it became trapped. They plan to continue their expedition after they are freed, expedition leader Chris Turney said.

Passengers and crew initially had to contend with blizzard conditions, including winds up to 70km/h, but the weather has calmed considerably since then, Turney said.

Despite the interruption to the expedition, the scientists have continued their research while stuck, counting birds in the area and drilling through the ice surrounding the ship to photograph sea life. Those on board also managed to celebrate the holiday with a traditional Christmas feast and a "Secret Santa" gift exchange, which helped keep everyone's spirits high, Turney said.

Read more on:    antarctica  |  china

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.