The Chinese icebreaker which helped transport passengers away from a stranded Antarctic ship has itself become stuck in ice
Having not moved for several days while preparing to airlift the passengers, the Chinese-owned Snow Dragon is now wedged in ice.
The ship was used as a launch pad to pick up the passengers on Thursday, after they had spent nine days stranded. Their ship, the Akademik Shokalskiy, became wedged in ice on Christmas Eve as it was heading towards Antarctica.
The MV Akademik Shokalskiy is pictured stranded in ice in Antarctica
But less than 24 hours later, it too was stuck in ice.
“It will attempt to manoeuvre through the ice when tidal conditions are most suitable, during the early hours of 4 January 2014,” said a statement from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, AMSA.
Greg Mortimer, one of three expedition leaders on the Akademik Shokalskiy, said it had been a “roller-coaster” rescue.
Speaking from the Australian ship, where all the passengers were recovering, he said: “I was immensely relieved for the people under my care.”
He added that he was “very sad” to leave behind the Russian vessel and its crew.
Jason Mundy, Australian Antarctic Division acting director, who is on board the Aurora Australis, said: “The passengers seem very glad to now be with us and they are settling in to their new accommodation.”
Mr Mundy said there were enough rooms for the passengers, and the ship can “look after them well for the final part of their journey”.
The passengers, mostly Australians and New Zealanders, will probably arrive in Australia’s southern island state of Tasmania around mid-January. The Akademik Shokalskiy’s Russian crew will stay on board until the ice breaks up and the ship is freed.
The Russian-owned research ship left New Zealand on November 28 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of an Antarctic journey led by Australian explorer Douglas Mawson.
It became trapped on December 24, 100 nautical miles east of French Antarctic station Dumont d’Urville and about 1,500 nautical miles south of Tasmania.
During their time on the ice, passengers amused themselves with films, classes in knot tying, languages, yoga and photography, and rang in the New Year with dinner, drinks and a song composed about their adventure.