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Russian expedition ship trapped in Antarctic ice

26 December 2013 17:58


A Russian ship carrying scores of scientists and tourists on an expedition is stuck in ice off Antarctica, with hopes of a rescue on the way, an official says.

The Russian MV Akademik Shokalskiy carrying 74 scientists and tourists sent a distress signal on Wednesday, saying it was trapped in ice roughly 100 nautical miles east of the French base Dumont D’Urville on the Antarctica continent, said the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

“The ship was starting to head out (to the open ocean) when the blizzard hit,” an expedition spokesperson said, adding that “It’s just stuck in ice. There’s no danger at all.”

Meanwhile, the AMSA said a mission to reach the vessel could be difficult.

“It’s quite windy and there could be some sort of blizzard conditions,” the Australian Broadcasting Corporation quoted an AMSA spokesperson, who added that “Weather conditions, if they become difficult, could hinder the options that we have.”

Australian authorities have requested nearby vessels to engage in a search and rescue operation, with a Chinese craft and three Australian icebreaking ships expected to reach the Russian ship late Friday.

Extreme weather conditions have provided a challenge to ships sailing seas of Antarctica. In 2009, Russian icebreaker Captain Khlebnikov carrying over 100 tourists was trapped in ice for five days off Antarctica.

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