|The Chinese icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, anchors in a sea-ice field off Antarctica, Jan. 3, 2014. Xuelong is blocked by thick ice after successfully transferred passengers aboard stranded Russian science vessel MV Akademik Shokalskiy Thursday. (Xinhua/Zhang Jiansong)
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ABOARD XUELONG, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- China's icebreaker Xuelong has been trapped by heavy floes since Friday after rescuing passengers on a Russian vessel stranded in Antarctica.
Xueying 12, a helicopter on board Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, on Thursday successfully evacuated all the 52 passengers aboard the Russian vessel Akademik Shokalskiy that has been stranded since Christmas Eve to the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis.
However, after the rescue, Xuelong's own movement was blocked by a one-km-long iceberg which is continuously drifting northwest, according to Xinhua reporters aboard Xuelong.
The massive flat-top iceberg sometimes is as close as 1.2 nautical miles (about 2.22 km) to Xuelong.
Wang Jianzhong, captain of Xuelong, said that currently the tidal conditions are extremely complex in this sea area, which is experiencing large astronomical tides, and the positions of the iceberg and ice floes are changing rapidly.
Xuelong will attempt to maneuver through the ice only after the giant iceberg drifts away, said the captain.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said Saturday local time that the Chinese icebreaker's attempt to manoeuvre through the ice early Saturday morning was unsuccessful.
but Xuelong has confirmed to the AMSA that it is safe, is not in distress and does not require assistance at the time, according to the latest statement from AMSA.
AMSA has confirmed that there is no immediate danger to personnel aboard the Xuelong which has food supplies for several weeks.
The statement also said the masters of both Akademik Shokalskiy and Xuelong agreed Saturday morning that further assistance from Aurora Australis is no longer required and they will be able to provide mutual support to each other.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged all-out efforts to ensure the safety of the Xuelong staff.
Premier Li Keqiang has also instructed the Xuelong team to stay calm and wait for the opportune moment to get out of trouble.
The Aurora Australis carrying all the rescued passengers has now continued to make its passage to the Casey base to complete a resupply before heading to Australia, AMSA statement said.
First group of passengers on stranded Russian vessel airlifted by Chinese helicopter: Xinhua reporter
ABOARD XUELONG, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- The first group of 12 passengers aboard a Russian vessel stuck in sea ice off Antarctica have been transferred by a Chinese helicopter to ice surface near an Australian rescue ship on Thursday, said a Xinhua reporter.
The passengers were taken to safe ice near Aurora Australis by Xueying 12, a helicopter on board China's icebreaker Xuelong, after an earlier flight examining the conditions around the stranded MV Akademik Shokalskiy to prepare for the landing on ice, said the reporter aboard Xuelong. Full story
Rescue helicopter finally reaches Russian ship stuck in sea ice in Antarctica
CANBERRA, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- A helicopter from Chinese icebreaker Xue Long finally reached the Russian research ship stuck in sea ice in Antarctica at around 5 p.m. (local time) after several attempts were thwarted by severe weather, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported on Thursday.
ABC footage showed the rescue helicopter has reached the Russian ship and the rescue operation has started.Full story