International Rescue
10:23 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Antarctic Rescue: Chinese Vessel 'May Now Be Stuck In Ice'

Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy (pictured) has been stuck in thick Antarctic ice since Dec. 24. Now the Xue Long, a Chinese ship sent to aid in the rescue of the passengers, is also caught.
Credit AP Photo/Andrew Peacock

The Chinese ice-breaker that helped rescue passengers stranded on the Akademik Shokalskiy vessel in Antarctica may now itself be stuck.

An Australian ice-breaker carrying the rescued passengers has been placed on standby in case the Chinese ship, Xue Long, needs assistance.

On Thursday, a helicopter from Xue Long transferred 52 passengers from the Shokalskiy to the Aurora Australis.

The Shokalskiy has been trapped by thick floes of ice since Dec. 24.

"Xue Long notified Amsa [the Australian Maritime Safety Authority]... this afternoon [that] it has concerns about their ability to move through heavy ice in the area," Amsa said in a statement.

"[Xue Long] will attempt to maneuver through the ice when tidal conditions are most suitable during the early hours of Jan. 4," Amsa said, adding that there was no immediate danger to the crew on the Xue Long.

The Australian Aurora Australis has been asked to remain in open water nearby as a precautionary measure.

BBC reporter Andrew Luck-Baker is on board the Australian ship: "The irony of the situation is that the Xue Long was originally summoned to break a clear route through the pack ice to the smaller Russian vessel. That was not possible and the large icebreaker is now trapped itself.

"As a precautionary measure, the Australian icebreaker has been put on standby to assist the Xue Long, if needs be. All the vessels involved in this drama are within a sea area of East Antarctica that is claimed by Australia. Hence, the coordinating role lies with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority."

Read the full story at BBC News.

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