Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rescued passengers head for open Antarctic water

CANBERRA, Australia — All 52 passengers rescued after being trapped for more than a week on an icebound Russian research ship in the Antarctic were aboard an Australian icebreaker slowly cracking through heavy sea ice toward open water today after their dramatic rescue by a Chinese helicopter.

A spot of clear weather allowed the multinational rescue operation Thursday after blinding snow, strong winds and thick sea ice forced rescuers to turn back time and again.

The twin-rotor helicopter, its red and yellow colors contrasting with the ice and snow, took seven hours to carry the scientists and tourists from the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy to an Australian icebreaker, according to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's Rescue Coordination Centre, which oversaw the rescue.

Earlier, the passengers had linked arms and stomped out a landing site in the snow next to the Russian ship for the helicopter, which is based on a Chinese icebreaker.

The rescue came after days of failed attempts to reach the vessel, which was trapped since Christmas Eve after a blizzard pushed the sea ice around the ship, freezing it in place.

The icebreaker Aurora Australis is expected to reach open sea later today and take two weeks to bring the passengers to the Australian island state of Tasmania.

Sydney resident Joanne Sim, a paying passenger, wept as she boarded the Australian icebreakers. She said the passengers had spent their time watching movies and playing games.

"It really has been an emotional rollercoaster," she told a reporter from the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper who is aboard the ship.

The 22 crew members of the Akademik Shokalskiy stayed with the icebound vessel, which is not in any danger and has enough supplies on board to last for weeks. They will wait until the ice that surrounds the ship breaks up.

Passengers from the trapped Russian vessel MV Akademik Shokalskiy, right, prepare to board a Chinese helicopter Thursday. The ship had been trapped in Antarctic ice since Christmas Eve.

Associated Press

Passengers from the trapped Russian vessel MV Akademik Shokalskiy, right, prepare to board a Chinese helicopter Thursday. The ship had been trapped in Antarctic ice since Christmas Eve.

Rescued passengers head for open Antarctic water 01/02/14 [Last modified: Thursday, January 2, 2014 10:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Florida: White man who killed black person to be executed

    State Roundup

    GAINESVILLE — For the first time in state history, Florida is expecting to execute a white man for killing a black person — and it plans to do so with help of a drug that has never been used previously in any U.S. execution.

    This undated photo provided by the Florida Department of Corrections shows Mark Asay. If his final appeals are denied, Asay is to die by lethal injection after 6 p.m. Thursday. Asay was convicted by a jury of two racially motivated, premeditated murders in Jacksonville in 1987.  [Florida Department of Corrections via AP]
  2. Ex-TPD sergeant LaJoyce Houston takes plea deal in stolen tax refund case

    Criminal

    TAMPA — LaJoyce Houston, a former Tampa police sergeant accused with her husband in a federal tax refund fraud scheme, has agreed to plead guilty to receiving stolen government property, court records state.

    Former Tampa police officers Eric and LaJoyce Houston walk into the Sam Gibbons U.S. District Courthouse on Oct. 28, 2015, to face charges relating to stolen identity tax refund fraud. [SCOTT KEELER    |      TIMES
 ]
  3. Deputies: Vet who practices in Gulfport, Port Richey abused animals at Lakeland home

    Crime

    LAKELAND – A veterinarian who practices part-time in Gulfport and Port Richey was arrested Tuesday along with her husband after Polk County Sheriff's Office deputies found more than 30 severely …

    Veterinarian Gail Nichols, 66, (above) who practices in Gulfport and Port Richey, was arrested Tuesday along with her husband Paul Smith, 74, after Polk County deputies found more than 30 severely abused animals at their Lakeland home. The two are each facing several counts of felony animal cruelty, among other charges, after at least 38 horses, birds and dogs were found at 3211 West Bella Vista Street in dire states and in filthy, unlivable conditions. [Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast: Several key players still sidelined

    Bucs

    Greg Auman gives an injury update, with several key players still sidelined from practice three days before the Bucs play the Cleveland Browns in Tampa, and a full recap of your favorite scenes from Tuesday …

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans was held out of practice Wednesday at One Buc Place. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
  5. Steve Kornell says small fix can help St. Pete's sewage problems

    Water

    ST. PETERSBURG— Steve Kornell knows his idea won't put much of a dent in the $326 million bill the city must pay over the next five years to fix its inadequate and outdated sewer system.

    St. Petersburg City Council member Steve Kornell (right) during a 2012 council meeting at City Hall. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]