Helicopter rescue possible for ship stuck off Antarctica
The passengers and some of the crew on a Russian-flagged research ship stranded in ice off Antarctica will be evacuated by a Chinese helicopter once the weather permits, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.
“A decision has been reached to evacuate 52 passengers and four crew members by helicopter from China's Xue Long (Snow Dragon) ship, should the weather allow,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.
The MV Akademik Shokalskiy has been stuck in thick ice since Christmas Day. Rescue efforts took a step backward on Monday when the Australian icebreaker sent to free the ship was forced to retreat to open water.
The icebreaker Aurora Australis was buffeted by 30-mph wind and snow showers as it ground toward the research ship, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority reported.
“These weather conditions have resulted in poor visibility and made it difficult and unsafe for the Aurora Australis to continue today's attempt to assist the MV Akademik Shokalskiy,” the authority, which is heading the rescue effort, said in a statement.
Expedition leader Chris Turney, a professor of climate change at Australia's University of New South Wales, has been tweeting and blogging during the trip. He tweeted at 7 a.m. Monday: “Bad news: Aurora couldn't get through. Tried twice. Low visibility & heavy ice. Returning to open water. Try again tomorrow? #spiritofmawson.”
Moments later, he tweeted: “Shocking weather today. Wet & windy. Had to use tent for comms on top deck. Aladdin's Cave. In the #spiritofmawson!” The tweet included a photo of a tent secured on the deck of the cruise ship.
The authority said the icebreaker closed to within 10 miles of the cruise ship before retreating and now sits about 18 miles away. Another attempt could be made to reach the cruise ship once conditions improve, the statement said.
The Chinese icebreaker Snow Dragon came within about 8 miles of reaching the ship on Saturday before turning back. It has remained in the area and is equipped with a helicopter.
RCC Australia said it was in regular contact with the Akademik Shokalskiy, adding that the ship has supplies for two more weeks and that everyone aboard was reported to be safe.
The passengers include 52 tourists, scientists and explorers — most of them Australians — along with a crew of 22 Russians, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. The ship, which left New Zealand last month, is on a research voyage to honor the 100th anniversary of Australian explorer Douglas Mawson.
The cruise ship, stuck about 1,500 miles south of Hobart, Tasmania, has not sustained damage. Morale remains high and passengers have ample provisions, Turney has written.
The search and rescue operation began on Christmas morning when Britain's Falmouth Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre received a distress message via satellite from the Akademik Shokalskiy.
The distress message and subsequent coordination of the incident was passed to RCC Australia, which is the search and rescue authority responsible for this area.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Russia missiles fall short of Syria, land onIran soil
- Mecca pilgrimage death toll at 1,399
- EU hardens stance on immigration
- U.S. warships may ply South China Sea
- Stabbing attacks by Palestinians spread in Israel
- Nobel laureate Alexievich of Belarus elevates world view of journalism
- Criminal investigation at United Nations snares one of its former presidents
- Opening of Abu Dhabi’s Louvre pushed back
- Syria presidency condemns destruction of Palmyra’s arch
- Svetlana Alexievich of Belarus wins Nobel literature prize