Chinese aid ship sent to rescue Russian ship gets stuck in Antartica

Chinese aid ship sent to rescue Russian ship gets stuck in Antartica
Moscow, Jan 4: A Chinese icebreaker ship that was sent to help a Russian ship stuck in heavy floes in Antarctica has now got trapped by ice, officials said on Saturday.

The Chinese ship Xue Long, ferried passengers on the stranded Russian ship Akademik Shokalskiy to an Australian vessel using a helicopter. But later Xue Long got stuck in the ice.The ship had hardly moved after its failed attempt to cut through the ice to reach the Shokalskiy.

By late Friday, the ship's crew expressed concerns about the heavy ice that surrounded it. Australian officials said they would try to free the ship soon.

However, there are reports that the ship was safe and not in immediate distress. The ship has food supplies for several weeks, informed the master of the Chinese ship.

The Russian research ship Akademic Shokalskiy remains stuck in ice 100 nautical miles from the French Antarctic base of Dumont d'Urville. It had 51 passengers on board, all of them have been rescued. However, 22 crew are still on board.

Australian authorities said that the incident could impact guidelines for polar expeditions. No details are available on how the Russian vessel got stranded.

According to Yves Frenot, director of the French Polar Institute, the rescue mission, which also initially involved the French ship the Astrolabe, has impacted some Antarctic research programmes.

The rescue mission forced French scientists to scrap a two-week oceanographic campaign this month using the Astrolabe, he said.
The Akademik Shokalskiy's research team had aimed to emulate a 1911-1914 expedition by the Australian explorer, Sir Douglas Mawson and Frenot. The scientists onboard, assisted by the passengers, were repeating century-old measurements to discover the environmental changes taking place in the frozen southern region.

Their research was also looking at the circulation of the Southern Ocean and its impact on the global carbon cycle and looking at the sub-Antarctic islands as thermometers of climatic change by examining trees, peats and lakes.

The scientists were also examining penguin rookeries and seal populations and aimed to produce the first underwater surveys of life in the sub-Antarctic islands and Commonwealth Bay.

Oneindia News

(With agency inputs)

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