Xuelong stands ready to break through in 48 hours
                 English.news.cn | 2014-01-07 12:20:41 | Editor: An

ANTARCTICA-CHINA-ICEBREAKER XUELONG-ICE BREAKING

Members of Chinese Antarctic exploration team release the sounding balloon to forecast weather change, in Antarctica, Jan. 6, 2014. Trapped Chinese research vessel and icebreaker Xuelong warmed up its engine and tried to broaden an "ice-breaking runway" on Monday, preparing for a possible westerly wind favorable for its breaking-out. (Xinhua/Zhang Jiansong)

ABOARD XUELONG, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- Trapped Chinese research vessel and icebreaker Xuelong on Monday is continuing to make the necessary preparations for possible escape from heavy sea ice in the next 48 hours.

Starting from early morning Tuesday, Xuelong will enforce a 48-hour highest-level emergency state, closely monitoring the movements of surrounding floes and icebergs and standing ready to break through.

Wu Jianjie, chief engineer of Xuelong, told Xinhua on Monday that all machines on the icebreaker are operating well.

Experts from China's National Marine Environment Forecasting Center (NMEFC) said that until Wednesday, the area where Xuelong is trapped will be affected by a warm wet air current from the north and see a westerly wind hopefully create favorable conditions for Xuelong to break through.

The icy edge of the area, six km east of Xuelong, has begun to loosen, and some small ice-free pools have appeared in the area.

The experts added that the icebergs near Xuelong do not currently pose any threat to the vessel, however, an unfavorable south-easterly wind is expected on Thursday.

Xuelong has been making preparations to free itself, warming up its engine and broadening an "ice-breaking runway" by sailing back and forth over a kilometer.

The icebreaker has been trapped in the area since Friday, one day after its helicopter Xueying evacuated all 52 passengers from the stranded Russian ship Akademik Shokalskiy to the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis.

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Video>>Xuelong to break free as ice around loosened

Icebreaker prepares for Antarctica breakout

BEIJING, Jan. 7 (Xinhuanet) -- The trapped Chinese icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, warmed up its engine and widened a path through the ice on Monday, preparing to break out of frozen floes in Antarctica, as weather conditions may turn favorable before Wednesday.

"The path is up to 80 meters wide and 1 kilometer long, which will help the vessel in breaking free," Qu Tanzhou, director of the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration under the State Oceanic Administration, said on Monday. Full story

Xuelong waits for chance to break free

BEIJING, Jan. 6 (Xinhuanet) -- The Chinese icebreaker that rescued 52 passengers stranded aboard a Russian ship last week is biding its time to save itself from Antarctic ice, as weather conditions may turn favorable on Monday. Full story

Xi requests safety of staff aboard stranded icebreaker

BEIJING, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- President Xi Jinping has requested all-out efforts to ensure the safety of the staff aboard the research vessel and icebreaker Xuelong, which is trapped in heavy ice after its rescue of passengers on a Russian vessel stranded in Antarctica. Full story

U.S. icebreaker Polar Star to help vessels trapped in Antarctica: AMSA

SYDNEY, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has requested the U.S. Coast Guard's icebreaker Polar Star to assist the Russian vessel MV Akademik Shokalskiy and the Chinese vessel Xue Long (Snow Dragon)which are stuck by ice in Antarctica. Full story

China sets up team to rescue stranded icebreaker

BEIJING, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- China has set up a leading team to rescue its icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, which has been trapped by heavy floes since it rescued passengers on a Russian vessel stranded in Antarctica on Thursday. Full story

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