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article imageStricken Russian vessel spends New Year still stranded on ice

By Kev Hedges     Jan 1, 2014 in Environment
The Russian vessel, Akademik Shokalskiy has been stuck in thick ice since Christmas Day and although the stricken ship has now been spotted, it remains stuck with 74 passengers, crew and scientists on board.
The Aurora Australis is an Australian ice breaker that has spotted the vessel and is now catching up with a Chinese ship, Xue Long, which has been waiting for the ice to melt enough for it to save the passengers. On Wednesday, the Aurora Australis reported that it was 3.1 miles away from the Chinese ship attempting to rescue it, and is believed to be making steady progress.
When the Akademik Shokalskiy became stuck on Christmas Eve, thanks to strong winds and thick pack ice, plans were made to remove some of the passengers by helicopters, but only when the weather permitted. The BBC reports that morale is high on board the vessel with New Year's Eve celebrations going ahead as planned.
Crew members on board the Aurora, owned by P&O Maritime, have prepared dried meals for the stranded passengers on the Shokalskiy, but the crew, scientists and passengers are all said to be in very good spirits with plenty of food to keep them going.
Andrew Luck-Baker is a BBC reporter stuck on the stricken vessel and he has said that when the cloud lifts, a large Chinese helicopter will take groups of 15 at a time to the Aurora. The crew of the Akademik Shokalskiy will stay on board and wait until they can navigate the vessel away from the ice. It could be several weeks until the vessel is freed but there is a massive ice breaker called the Polar Star, sent by the US, due to arrive in the area around January 10. Moreover, the Polar Star can easily bust through six-metre thick pack ice at speed.
More about Akademik Shokalskiy, Antarctic, aurora australis, stricken vessel, Blizzard
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