Chinese Helicopter Lifts 52 Passengers to Safety in Antarctica
   2014-01-03 00:01:44      Web Editor: Jiang

Rescue workers make their way from a helicopter to the Russian ship Akademik Shokalskiy, which has been trapped in Antarctic ice since Christmas Eve, at Commonwealth Bay in East Antarctica, 100 nautical miles (185 km) east of French Antarctic station Dumont D'Urville and about 1,500 nautical miles (2,800km) south of Australia's southern island state of Tasmania, in this still image taken from video shot by expedition leader Chris Turney, Professor of Climate Change at the University of New South Wales, on January 2, 2014. The Chinese helicopter has reached a Russian ship stranded in Antarctica for nine days and is beginning to pick up 52 passengers who spent Christmas and the New Year trapped in ice, Turney said on Thursday. [Photo: CFP/Chris Turney via via Reuters TV]

A Chinese helicopter has rescued all 52 passengers from a Russian research ship that has been trapped in the Antarctic ice since Christmas Eve.

The successful rescue comes after days of failed attempts to reach the ship because of strong winds and thick sea ice.

The helicopter on-board the Chinese icebreaker Xuelong has carried the scientists and tourists from the Russian ship in groups of 12 to an Australian icebreaker.

Chris Turney, leader of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, has posted an online video, showing the first group of passengers heading to the helicopter.

"It's 5.30 on the 2nd of January and we've just heard that the helicopter from the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long is heading over to check out our helipad just behind me. If all goes well we'll be off in about an hour's time."

All passengers on board the Russian ship are believed to be in good condition.

The Australian icebreaker will now take the passengers to Tasmania.

The journey is expected to last two weeks.

Meanwhile, the 22 crew members of the Russian ship are going to stay with their icebound vessel until the ice breaks up.

The Xuelong, which left Shanghai in early November, managed to get within sight of the stranded ship on Saturday before being blocked by the heavy pack-ice.

The Chinese icebreaker is currently on its latest scientific expedition to Antarctica.

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