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 5:45 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
updated 9:43 PM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
updated 4:48 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
updated 9:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
updated 7:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
updated 6:44 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
updated 5:26 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
updated 5:54 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
updated 9:31 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT