Tourists aboard the Antarctic-bound MV Akademik Shokalskiy may have to wait for rescue by Chinese helicopter after the third and last Australian icebreaker was forced to abandon its rescue bid yesterday afternoon.
Australia’s Aurora Australis turned back after 5 days and 1,100 nautical miles of travel and coming within 10 nautical miles of its target.
“The area where the MV Akademik Shokalskiy is beset by ice is currently experiencing winds of up to 30 knots and snow showers,” the Australian Maritime Safety Authority stated yesterday afternoon.
“These weather conditions have resulted in poor visibility and made it difficult and unsafe for the Aurora Australis to continue today’s attempt to assist the MV Akademik Shokalskiy. Further attempts may be made by the vessel in due course to undertake the rescue once weather conditions improve.”
The Russian Akademik Shokalskiy has about 50 passengers and 20 crew members on board. The group met in New Zealand for a 28-day Australasian Antarctic Expedition on 1 December and called for rescue on Christmas day after becoming stuck in ice floes.
According to a News Ltd report this morning, Russia plans to evacuate 52 passengers and 4 crew members by Chinese helicopter.
The AMSA reports that people aboard the Akademik Shokalskiy remained safe and well, with supplies for several weeks. Blog posts from stranded passengers indicate that they’ve been able to leave the ship, to walk and build igloos atop surrounding ice.
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