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Chinese helicopter to rescue trapped Russian ship
January 1, 2014, 5:34 am

Xuelong is on a scientific expedition to Antarctica and had left Shanghai in early November [AP]

Xuelong is on a scientific expedition to Antarctica and had left Shanghai in early November [AP]

Chinese icebreaker Xuelong is in the final stages of rescuing passengers and crew members of a Russian ship stuck in sea ice off Antarctica.

Xuelong is on a scientific expedition to Antarctica and had left Shanghai in early November.

The Chinese ship had to establish an emergency relief working group after the Russian ship sent a distress call on Christmas Day after being trapped in heavy sea ice.

The Russian ship’s captain sent a formal request on Tuesday for chopper rescue.

The Chinese rescue operation will utilize the helicopter Xueying (Snow Eagle) on board to airlift trapped passengers to safety.

Chief officer of MV Akademik Shokalskiy told Itar-Tass the passengers are expected to be rescued by helicopter in groups of 12 and will be initially transported to Xuelong. The powerful Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis, which is approaching slowly due to the poor weather, will then use its barge to take aboard all the 52 passengers.

“When to start the evacuation depends on weather conditions, but currently the rescue must be held off due to strong wind and poor visibility,” he said.

The adverse weather is expected to improve only  Wednesday afternoon.

MV Akademik Shokalskiy, the Russian science ship, is carrying 22 crew members and 52 scientists and tourists.

 

Source: Agencies

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