The rescue of a ship trapped by pack ice in Antarctica with
74 people on board, including six Kiwis, has suffered another
Chinese icebreaker Xue Long, or Snow Dragon, was on its way
to the MV Akademik Shokalskiy, but abandoned the rescue after
itself striking heavy ice.
Australian Maritime Safety Authority spokeswoman Andrea
Hayward-Maher said the Snow Dragon came within 6.1 nautical
miles of the stranded ship early this morning before its
master decided to turn back.
Everyone on the MV Akademik Shokalskiy, which has been
trapped 3000 kilometres southwest of Bluff since Christmas
Day, was safe, Ms Hayward-Maher said.
Another ice-breaking ship, Australia's Aurora Australis, is
still on its way to the MV Akademik Shokalskiy, and is
expected to arrive tomorrow. A French icebreaker,
L'Astrolabe, is in the area on standby to help.
In a video posted to You Tube last night, expedition leader
Chris Turney said the Snow Dragon could be seen on the
horizon over his shoulder.
The video was posted before the icebreaker was itself halted
by heavy sea ice.
In the video, Professor Turney said the icebreaker was making
steady progress at about 2 knots, and was expected to reach
the stranded ship within two to three hours.
"There's a lot of relief amongst the team and there's a lot
of happy faces,'' he said.
Professor Turney has not posted another video since the Xue
Long abandoned its rescue efforts.
The MV Akademik Shokalskiy left Bluff on December 8 on an
expedition led by scientists from the University of New South
The stranded ship was retracing Sir Douglas Mawson's 1911
Antarctic expedition when it became trapped.
Among the stranded passengers are six New Zealanders _
ornithologist Kerry-Jayne Wilson, University of Auckland
doctoral student Colin Tan, historians John and Barbara
Tucker, and two chefs.
Dr Wilson said on Thursday that everyone on the ship was safe
and in absolutely no danger.
Australian authorities said last night that weather
conditions improved yesterday, with strong winds and snow
abating, and were expected to remain favourable for the next