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Chinese icebreaker to rescue Russian ship
December 29, 2013, 4:42 am

The stranded Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy is being monitored through a powerful telescope on Xuelong by the Chinese crew [Xinhua]

The stranded Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy is being monitored through a powerful telescope on Xuelong by the Chinese crew [Xinhua]

Chinese icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon is enroute to rescue a Russian science ship trapped off Antarctica.

The ship has stalled since midnight Friday after getting stuck in thick ice only 6.1 nautical miles away from the Russian ship.

“Since the thick ice exceeds the ship’s icebreaking capabilities and an upcoming cyclone will exacerbate icy conditions, we have to temporarily stall the ship,” said Wang Jianzhong, captain of Xuelong.

The stranded Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy is being monitored through a powerful telescope on Xuelong by the Chinese crew.

The captain said rescue efforts will continue soon after securing ship safety.

“We will also provide emergency relief and other assistance to the Russian ship to the best of our ability,” Wang added.

The helicopter aboard named Xueying 12 in Chinese, or Snow Eagle, cannot take off due to poor visibility and heavy snow.

Xuelong will do its utmost to approach the trapped Russian ship in the first place after communication, Wang said.

French icebreaker Astrolabe is also attempting rescue, but a main engine has broken down due to the extreme weather, making it unable to offer help.

The Russian ship, built in Finland in 1982, is carrying a team of Australian scientists and other passengers to conduct scientific experiments in Antarctica. It is scheduled to return to New Zealand in January 2014.

Meanwhile, China is building its fourth research base in Antarctica. Natural resources in the Antarctic include massive oil reserves with some projections suggesting oil fields of the Ross Sea in the region are second only to oil-rich Saudi Arabia.

Source: Agencies

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