A U.S. Coast Guard heavy icebreaker left Australia for Antarctica on Sunday to rescue more than 120 crew members aboard two icebreakers trapped in pack ice near the frozen continent’s eastern edge, officials said. The 122-meter cutter, the Polar Star, is responding to a Jan. 3 request from Australia, Russia and China to assist the Russian and Chinese ships.
The Chinese icebreaker that helped rescue 52 passengers from a Russian ship stranded in Antarctic ice found itself stuck in heavy ice, further complicating the 9-day roller-coaster rescue operation. Snow Dragon (Xue Long) had ferried the passengers from the stranded Russian ship to an Australian icebreaker late on Thursday.
A Chinese helicopter reached on Thursday a Russian ship stranded in Antarctica for nine days to pick up 52 passengers who spent Christmas and the New Year trapped in ice, the expedition leader has said.
Seventy four people spent Christmas aboard a cruise ship that has become stuck in the ice in a remote region off the coast of Antarctica and rescue vessels are at least two days away, according to Australian maritime officials. Three icebreakers are sailing to the rescue.