Rescued Antarctic scientists back on dry land
SYDNEY (AFP) - Scientists whose Antarctic expedition became trapped in sea ice finally returned to dry land on Wednesday, apologising for the disruption and facing questions over who will pay for the international rescue mission.
The scientists were among the 52 passengers plucked by helicopter from their stranded Russian ship, the Akademik Shokalskiy, on Jan 2 after Chinese and Australian icebreakers failed to cut through the ice to rescue them.
A helicopter from the Chinese ship transferred them to the Australian ship the Aurora Australis, which docked in Hobart on Wednesday.
The rescue, estimated to have cost up to A$2.4 million (S$2.7 million), prompted harsh criticism from some quarters because it diverted resources from other scientific programmes in Antarctica's Southern Hemisphere summer.