Relief as harsh Antarctic rescue mission ends safely
SYDNEY (AFP) - Australian authorities expressed relief on Friday after 52 passengers were safely rescued by helicopter from a Russian ship stranded in Antarctic ice, saying the dramatic mission had been difficult and complex.
Officials tasked with freeing the scientific expedition on the Akademik Shokalskiy, which has been stuck since December 24, succeeded in flying them out Thursday in an on-off rescue operation.
A helicopter from a Chinese icebreaker landed on a makeshift landing pad next to the marooned ship and ferried the scientists, tourists and journalists to an Australian government supply vessel, the Aurora Australis.
"This one was quite difficult to do, and we wouldn't want it to be much more remote than this on a regular basis," said John Young, general manager of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's emergency response division.