China icebreaker close to trapped Antarctic ship

Russian vessel has been trapped in ice south of Tasmania since Tuesday

 A supplied image  from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority shows an Antarctic-bound Russian-registered MV Akademik Shokalskiy  wedged in thick sheets of sea ice. Photograph: EPA

A supplied image from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority shows an Antarctic-bound Russian-registered MV Akademik Shokalskiy wedged in thick sheets of sea ice. Photograph: EPA

Fri, Dec 27, 2013, 17:36

A Chinese icebreaker is expected a reach a Russian ship trapped in thick Antarctic ice with 74 people on board by tomorrow.

The Snow Dragon was one of three icebreakers dispatched to free the MV Akademik Shokalskiy, which became stranded far south of Tasmania on Tuesday in ice driven by strong winds.

“The first, a Chinese icebreaker, is expected to arrive at the scene of the accident on December 28th,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Video

“Great news: Icebreaker Snow Dragon on Horizon with penguins! Everyone very happy!” Chris Turney, an Australian professor who helped organize the voyage on the Russian ship, said on Twitter today.

He posted a photograph apparently showing the Chinese vessel, a speck on the horizon beyond an expanse of ice.

The Akademik Shokalskiy departed New Zealand on November 28th on a privately funded expedition which commemorates the 100th anniversary of an Antarctic journey led by famed Australian explorer Douglas Mawson.

The ship’s passengers include scientists and tourists, many of them Australian, and what the Russian Foreign Ministry said were 22 Russian crew members.

The Russian embassy in Australia has been in constant contact with the captain and everyone on board is in good health, it said. “There is no threat to their lives or safety”.

The ship is trapped some 185 km east of French Antarctic station Dumont D’Urville and about 1,500 2,800 km nautical miles south of Hobart, Tasmania.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is coordinating the rescue effort, said earlier today the first of the three vessels was moving slowly through the ice about 15 nautical miles from the Akademik Shokalskiy.

Mr Turney had said in a web-posted video yesterday that the Snow Dragon was expected to reach the stranded ship today.

Reuters

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