Saturday, December 28, 2013

Icebreaker sent to rescue ship trapped near Antarctica can't penetrate ice


A Chinese icebreaker boat trying to eat through a dense ice block in Antarctica to rescue 74 people trapped on a ship since Christmas Day has had to halt efforts because the ice is too thick.

The Chinese “Snow Dragon” reached the ice floe off the coast of Cape de la Motte, and got about 6.7 nautical miles from the Russian-operated MV Akademik Shokalskiy Friday, before calling off the mission, according to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

The Russian ship is not in danger of sinking, and there are ample supplies and food for those aboard. A rescue coordination center is exploring other options to help free the ship, including the evacuation of all passengers. Another ice breaker ship that has better capabilities than the Chinese vessel, the Aurora Australis, is headed towards the Shokalskiy and is expected to arrive over the weekend.

The vessel got stuck after a blizzard's whipping winds pushed the sea ice around the ship, freezing it in place. The Snow Dragon had made steady, but slow progress but the packed ice was more solid than expected, as thick as 10-feet in some places.

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