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Antarctica ship update: Third ship stops in Antarctica, helicopter rescue option

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An Antarctica ship update on Monday reports that a third ship is now in the Antarctica but it is unable to reach the trapped Russian passenger ship or the Chinese rescue vessel, the Snow Dragon. The Australian ship Aurora Australis was stopped in its rescue mission by snow showers and high winds. “The Aurora made it within 10 nautical miles of the stranded ship before having to retreat, AMSA said,” according to a World News report.

“The Snow Dragon remained near the Shokalskiy on Monday, AMSA intended for the helicopter aboard the Snow Dragon to rescue the trapped passengers in the event that the Aurora Australis had to turn around. But AMSA said Monday ‘it is also unsafe to attempt to launch the helicopter from the Chinese vessel,’ due to the wind and snow. The Aurora may make a second attempt to reach the Shokalskiy if weather conditions improve, AMSA said.”

A Chinese icebreaker stalled en route to rescue a trapped Russian passenger ship in the Antarctica. The Chinese icebreaker was only six nautical miles away from the stranded Russian passenger ship when the vessel got stopped by ice and weather, reported the Chinese icebreaker’s captain as reported by CNN on Dec. 27, 2013.

“The captain acknowledged his ship may need help from two other icebreakers headed to the area if conditions deteriorate.”

The stalled Chinese icebreaker Xue Long (meaning Snow Dragon) is joining the trapped Russian passenger ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy which got stuck in Antarctic ice on Christmas Day. The trapped Russian passenger ship has scientists, explorers, and two Guardian journalists on board.

In November, the Russian passenger ship left New Zealand as part of a research expedition to commemorate the centenary of Douglas Mawson's exploration. While the ship has sufficient supplies to take care of its 74 passengers and crew members, everyone had been looking forward to getting rescued on Friday by the Chinese vessel. On his Twitter page, Chris Turney, the Antarctic expedition leader, keeps everyone up to date on the tourists’ condition with pictures and videos.

The Chinese icebreaker stalled in the Antarctic ice after it had sailed through an intense cyclone. The Chinese icebreaker’s captain told CNN that "we are in continual communication with the (stranded) ship. I think it's at least a form of emotional relief for them to know we are nearby to help. We know that they (passengers) are all doing well on that ship." The French vessel Astrolabe and the Australian ship, the Aurora Australis, are en route to assist the stranded Russian passenger ship -- and the stalled Chinese icebreaker.

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