Icebound Antarctic passengers airlifted to safety

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Meanwhile a few thousand miles south of pallel, the past week or so a big problem has been ice, too much of it. Surrounding a Russian antarctic research and tourist ship the Akademik Shokalskiy has been locked up in ice that unexpectedly closed in on the ship, during a blizzard on Christmas eve.

The weather since then has thwarted ice breakers trying to come to the rescue, but today the drama is finally over. At least for the ship's scientist and paying passangers, all 52 of them were air lifted by a Chinese helicopter today to an Australian ice breaker, a truly international operation.

BBC's Andrew Luck Baker had been along the ride on the Akademik Shokalskiy the whole way. Earlier today he spoke with BBC TV, "I am aboard the Australian ice breaker, the Aurora Australis, and who you are just watching then is the last group of people to been ferried from the Russian vessel over through about 15 minute white knuckle ride, helicopter ride to just outside the Australian ice breaker. So everybody has been transferred from the Russian ship to the Australian ship

The ship's 20 crew members had stayed behind, but the Australian Maritime Safety Authority spokesman John Young said they neither them or the ship is in danger. "It's fully operational, it's fully prepared to be on the ice, it's well stored and well provisioned, so the risks will be low for the crew." the Akademik Shokalskiy had originally set out to recreate an Antarctic expedition that took place a Centaurus ago. That one also didn't end well by the way, even worse so in fact two members of that expedition died and the ship's captain ended up stranded, alone, in Antarctica for over a year. In that measure, the modern voyage was something of a very long Christmas party.