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
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
The reported firing of artillery from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle, says CNN's military analyst Rick Francona.
updated 4:46 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
The young boy stops, stares, throws ammunition casings at the reporter's feet without a word.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
A picture taken on June 28, 2014 shows a member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated. The World Health Organization has warned that Ebola could spread beyond hard-hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to neighbouring nations, but insisted that travel bans were not the answer.
The worst ebola outbreak in history spreads out of control in West Africa. CNN's Michael Holmes reports.
updated 8:48 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
ITN's Dan Rivers reports from the hospital where those injured by an attack in Gaza were being treated.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
updated 2:08 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Flight attendants are wearing black ribbons to show solidarity with fallen colleagues in "a tribute to those who never made it home."
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