Antarctic ship passengers to be evacuated by Chinese helicopter: Russia
SYDNEY (AFP) - Most passengers and some crew from a scientific expedition ship stranded off Antarctica will be evacuated by helicopter to a Chinese icebreaker if weather conditions improve, Russia said on Monday.
Authorities decided to resort to the helicopter evacuation after the Aurora Australis rescue icebreaker was forced to retreat in the face of freezing winds and snow showers 10 nautical miles (18.52 km) from the Russian-flagged MV Akademik Shokalskiy, which is stuck in an ice field.
Thick ice had earlier prevented both the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long and a French icebreaker from reaching the stranded crew.
"A decision has been reached to evacuate 52 passengers and four crew members by helicopter from China's Xue Long ship, should the weather allow," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.