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Russian passenger ship trapped: Tourists stuck in Antarctica in thick ice sheets

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A Russian passenger ship trapped in Antarctic ice is stuck until rescue ships can reach the trapped Russian passenger ship with about 50 passengers, including tourists and explorers, and 20 crew members on board. “The MV Akademik Shokalskiy has 74 people aboard including 52 explorers and tourists,” the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), told NBC News in a Dec. 25, 2013, report.

According to AMSA spokesperson Andrea Hayward-Maher, the Russian passenger ship is trapped 100 nautical miles east of the French Antarctic base Dumont D’Urville in a very remote location in the Antarctica.

The trapped Russian passenger ship has scientists, explorers, and two Guardian journalists on board and the Guardian reports that so far all passengers and crew members are safe and that the ship, which is wedged in between thick sheets of ice, is not in any immediate danger.

In November, the Russian passenger ship left New Zealand as part of a research expedition to commemorate the centenary of Douglas Mawson's exploration. Along with Roald Amundsen, Robert Falcon Scott, and Ernest Shackleton, Sir Douglas Mawson was a key expedition leader during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration, and in 1913, Douglas Mawson endured the most arduous challenges which he described in The Home of the Blizzard.

“This is Douglas Mawson's first-hand account of his years spent in sub-zero temperatures and gale-force winds. At the heart of the story is Mawson's epic sledge journey from 1912-1913, during which his companions B. E. S. Ninnis and Xavier Mertz both perished.”

In 1913, while on his Antarctic 100-mile return trip to the main base at Cape Denison, Douglas Mawson fell through the opening of a crevasse and was saved only by his sledge wedging itself into the ice sheets above him.

On Christmas morning 2013, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority received a distress call from the Russian ship that the 71-meter-long vessel was trapped in ice sheets part way towards Mawson's Hut at Cape Denison and would need help.

On his Twitter page, Chris Turney, the Antarctic expedition leader, keeps everyone up to date on the tourists’ condition with pictures and videos and wrote a tweet just on Dec. 25. “We're channeling the spirit of Mawson. Very much in the Home of the Blizzard!”

Three icebreakers are heading to help the trapped Russian passenger ship but the rescue vessels are not expected to be able to reach the tourists and explorers until Friday.

NOTE: To be notified of further updates to this news story, please follow JTNews19 on Twitter.

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