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Passengers rescued from icebound Antarctic ship

‚Äč 52 Research Ship Passengers Rescued In Antarctic

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- A helicopter rescued all 52 passengers from a research ship that has been trapped in Antarctic ice since Christmas Eve after weather conditions finally cleared enough for the operation Thursday.

A helicopter carried the scientists and tourists from the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalski in groups of 12 to an Australian icebreaker, said the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's Rescue Coordination Centre, which oversaw the rescue. The Aurora Australis will now take the passengers to the Australian island state of Tasmania, a journey expected to last two weeks.

"I think everyone is relieved and excited to be going on to the Australian icebreaker and then home," expedition leader Chris Turney told The Associated Press by satellite phone from the Antarctic.

All 22 crew members stayed with their icebound vessel, which is not in danger of sinking and has weeks' worth of supplies on board. They will wait until the ice that has paralyzed the ship breaks up.

The eagerly anticipated rescue came after days of failed attempts to reach the vessel. Blinding snow, strong winds, fog and thick sea ice forced rescuers to turn back time and again.

Three icebreakers were dispatched to try and crack their way through the ice surrounding the ship, but all failed. The Aurora came within 20 kilometers (12 miles) of the ship Monday, but fierce winds and snow forced it to retreat to open water.

On Thursday, it appeared the weather had thwarted yet another rescue attempt. The helicopter was originally going to airlift the passengers to a Chinese icebreaker, the Snow Dragon, with a barge then ferrying them to the Aurora. But sea ice prevented the barge from reaching the Snow Dragon, and the maritime authority said the operation would have to be delayed.

A last-minute change in plans allowed the rescue to go ahead. The passengers were instead flown to an ice floe next to the Aurora and then taken by a small boat to the Australian ship, Turney said.

The Akademik Shokalskiy, which left New Zealand on Nov. 28, got stuck after a blizzard pushed the sea ice around the ship, freezing it in place about 2,700 kilometers (1,700 miles) south of Hobart, Tasmania. The scientific team on board had been recreating Australian explorer Douglas Mawson's 1911 to 1913 voyage to Antarctica.

Turney had hoped to continue the trip if an icebreaker managed to free the ship. Despite his disappointment over the expedition being cut short, he said his spirits remained high.

"I'm a bit sad it's ended this way," he said. "But we got lots and lots of great science done."


Associated Press writer Kristen Gelineau in Sydney contributed to this report.

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cplandman January 02 2014 at 11:23 AM

Did they prove that global warming was causing the ice sheet to melt? Does their ship use fossil fuel or is it powered by wind or solar power? What a bunch of maroons!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
thorrsman January 02 2014 at 10:37 AM

Funny that the fact that these folks were down in the Antarctic--during the beginning of summer down there--to gather data to "prove" the Global Warming Theory gets no mention in the story about them being trapped by ice.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
danbol1237 thorrsman January 02 2014 at 10:50 AM

It's bad press for their theory so the media turned into a social event.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
Chester DUDE January 02 2014 at 10:32 AM

It's summer in the southern hemisphere, where is all this global warming? Antarctic sea ice is at record levels.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
paul29robert January 02 2014 at 12:18 PM

A fine study of cooperation.

Bob Jones

Flag Reply +1 rate up
ccarus001 January 02 2014 at 12:23 PM

What happened to Global Warming!

Flag Reply +5 rate up
2 replies
jaybeach8 ccarus001 January 02 2014 at 12:40 PM

This was, like in 4th grade grammar class, The Exception that Proves the Rule. When I was a kid I never understood that but now I do. It's a scam played on us, just as fat Al Gore got fat telling all those lies, so the Climate Change Huckster scientists are doing the same.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
bchrist751 ccarus001 January 02 2014 at 12:52 PM

There never has been Global Warming... Its all a Al Gore hoax to make him a billionaire!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
dscontreras10 January 02 2014 at 10:23 AM

So this so called journalist forgets to mention that these "scientist" were trying to prove global warming theories set ages ago. Way to go ROD, way to show your unbias journalism.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
mrdsp January 02 2014 at 12:34 PM

Haha........I crew goes to study Global Warming....and gets stuck in the ice.....conclusion: AGW a disproven phenomenon.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
Max mrdsp January 02 2014 at 12:40 PM

that where the money is!!!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
wclark8 January 02 2014 at 10:14 AM

Don't give up the ship-as they allways say.How do you say that in Russian?

Flag Reply +1 rate up
The Boss January 02 2014 at 12:39 PM

Total Karma!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
BERNIE January 02 2014 at 12:40 PM

GLOBAL WARMING ANYONE ?????????????????/

Flag Reply +2 rate up
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