After a harrowing ordeal all the 52 stranded passengers aboard a research ship in Antarctica were plucked to safety by a Chinese helicopter. The Chinese helicopter made a dozen trips to ferry all the trapped passengers from the Russian research vessel which was trapped in the ice.
The rescue efforts were being tried for a week now but the efforts were thwarted by bad weather and high winds. The remarkable international rescue operation became feasible once the weather cleared. Blinding snow, strong winds, fog and thick sea ice forced rescuers to turn back time and again.
According to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s Rescue Coordination Center, which oversaw the rescue informed that all the passengers of the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy was ferried by the twin rotor Chinese helicopter and brought to the Australian icebreaker.
The passengers even stomped hand in hand to prepare a landing site for the Chinese helicopter.The Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy was stuck since Christmas Eve when it got trapped in huge sheets of Ice. The Australian Icebreaker, Aurora Australis will ferry the rescued passengers to the Australian island of Tasmania, a journey which is expected to take two weeks.
Expedition leader Chris Turney told The Associated Press by satellite phone from the Antarctic “I think everyone is relieved and excited to be going on to the Australian icebreaker and then home,”
22 crew members of the Russian research vessel will be staying aboard the stuck vessel. The ship is not in any danger of sinking and is stocked with supplies to last for weeks. The crew will wait for the ice around the ship to break before it will start its journey back.
The Akademik Shokalskiy left New Zealand on Nov. 28 for a privately funded research expedition before it got stuck after a blizzard which pushed the sea ice around the ship. The ship was stuck some 2,700 kilometers (1,700 miles) south of Hobart, Tasmania. Three icebreakers were dispatched to free the ship but all efforts were in vain.
Finally it was decided that the Chinese chopper will ferry the passengers to the Chinese ice breaker and then a barge will ferry them to the Australian ice breaker. However weather made this impossible leading to the cancellation of the rescue attempt. However when the weather cleared, the Chinese chopper ferried them to a ice floe next to the Aurora and then taken by a small boat to the Australian ship