The Norman Transcript

Homepage

January 2, 2014

52 passengers trapped in Antarctica set to be rescued

CANBERRA, Australia — Passengers on board a research ship that has been trapped in Antarctic ice for more than a week are expected to be rescued by helicopter today after three icebreakers failed to reach the paralyzed vessel, officials said.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s Rescue Coordination Centre, which is handling the operation, said early today that weather conditions had improved in the area since Wednesday and rescue flights were likely to commence shortly. Wind in the area had died down to 19 kmh and visibility had improved, with conditions expected to remain favorable for the next 36 hours, the center said in a statement.

“A stunning day,” expedition leader Chris Turney said in a video posted on his Twitter account, blue sky visible behind him. “Hopefully we’ll hear about the evacuation soon.”

The 74 scientists, tourists and crew on the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy, which has been stuck since Christmas Eve, had been hoping the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis would be able to crack through the thick ice and allow them to continue on their way. The Aurora came within 12 miles of the ship Monday, but fierce winds and snow forced it to retreat to open water.

The helicopter on board the Chinese-flagged vessel Snow Dragon will be used to rescue 52 scientists and tourists, a dozen at a time, over five hours. All 22 crew members are expected to stay with their icebound vessel, which is not in danger.

The maritime authority said the passengers will be flown 7 miles to the Chinese ship, from where they will be transported 2 miles by barge to the Australian icebreaker. They are expected to reach the Australian island state of Tasmania by mid-January.

“The ships will commence this operation when they’re all happy that it’s ready to go,” maritime authority spokesman John Young said. “The weather conditions appear to be suitable today.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Headlines

Sports
Opinion

Features

Must Read

Editorials

Video
Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Sex Offenders Arrested in Slayings of CA Women India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge
Business

Photos


Facebook