Skip to main content

Ships break free from ice off Antarctica

From Brian Walker, CNN
updated 9:30 PM EST, Tue January 7, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Cracks in the ice allowed a Russian research ship and a Chinese icebreaker to escape
  • 52 passengers aboard the research ship were evacuated last week
  • Chinese icebreaker will remain in the region, while the Russian ship is leaving

(CNN) -- Two ships broke free Tuesday from the Antarctic ice that had trapped them off the continent's coast.

Cracks in the ice allowed the Russian research ship Akademik Shokalskiy to escape the ice field where it had been stranded for two weeks, Australia's Maritime Safety Authority said.

The Chinese icebreaker Xue Long, which had gotten stuck in the ice during an attempt to extract the Russian ship, broke free about an hour later, officials said.

The Akademik Shokalskiy had been trapped in unusually deep ice since Christmas Eve with scientists, journalists, tourists and crew members on board. A helicopter ferried the ship's 52 passengers to an Australian icebreaker last week.

"We continue to sail northward, changing courses and speed. The speed is 7 knots," the Russian ship's captain, Igor Kiselev, told the ITAR-TASS official news agency Tuesday.

The captain reported that his ship is now headed to New Zealand, the maritime authority said.

52 passengers rescued from trapped ship

The Xue Long will remain on its original mission in the Antarctic, China's state-run Xinhua news agency said.

A U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker had been dispatched to help free the stranded ships over the weekend, but they broke loose before it arrived.

Meanwhile, the international team of researchers who were flown off the stranded Russian ship are on board the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis, which is ferrying them to Australia's Casey Station on Antarctica.

"All well on @AusAntarctic Aurora," team leader Chris Turney reported via Twitter.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:27 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Hamas' tactics have changed -- now the group is using commando-like tactics, says CNN's Ben Wedeman.
updated 11:40 AM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Some contend that larger weapons have come into Ukraine from Russia.
updated 2:57 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
A nun, an AIDS researcher, an athlete and a family traveling on summer vacation. These were some of the victims aboard MH17.
updated 8:21 PM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Prince George isn't your average one year old. He started walking before he was one. Oh, and, he's going to be king -- of 16 countries.
updated 7:36 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Former President Bill Clinton acknowledges he got "very close" to helping achieve peace in the Middle East.
updated 2:21 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
In an ambitious plan to upgrade urban India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he will build 100 "smart cities" across the country.
updated 7:27 AM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Inspirational, creepy or just weird? CNN meets the 51-year-old man who dresses like a schoolgirl.
updated 7:00 AM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
A British nanotech company has created what it says is the world's darkest material.
updated 7:12 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Yoga, meditation and watching a snake eat a frog alive: these are some of the experiences to be had at this Himalayan yoga retreat.
updated 7:52 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
The world's largest flying aquatic insect, with huge, nightmarish pincers, has been discovered in China's Sichuan province, experts say.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT