New Year on ice for stranded Antarctic ship as weather stalls air-sea rescue
SYDNEY (AFP) - An icebound Russian research vessel prepared to ring in the New Year in remote Antarctica on Tuesday as blizzards hampered a helicopter rescue planned after several icebreaking attempts failed.
The MV Akademik Shokalskiy has been stranded 100 nautical miles east of the French base Dumont d'Urville for a week, hemmed in by impenetrable pack ice that three separate breakers have been unable to breach.
The Australian government's supply ship Aurora Australis on Monday came within 10 nautical miles of the marooned vessel - which has 74 research scientists, tourists and crew on board - but was forced to turn back by snow showers and freezing winds.
Russia's foreign ministry said a decision had been reached overnight to evacuate all 52 passengers by a helicopter on board the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long, which remains nearby after its own aborted bid to reach the Akademik Shokalskiy.