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Research vessel trapped in Antarctica ice, rescue ship stalled



A Qantas 747 charter flies over Antarctica a century after Douglas Mawson and his Australasian Antarctic Expedition mapped it.

The Russian expedition ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy was awaiting rescue Friday after becoming trapped in ice off the coast of eastern Antarctica with 74 crew and passengers on board.

The Chinese Snow Dragon ice breaker was meant to reach the Russian ship by Friday, but ice and bad weather stalled the ship six nautical miles away from the research vessel.

"Right now we are waiting for winds to blow ice away so we can move closer," Capt. Wang Jiangzhong told CNN via satellite phone on Friday. "The current ice condition is exceeding our capabilities to break through further."

He estimated that the ice breaker would not reach the stranded ship for another two days.

He added: "We are in continual communication with the (stranded) ship. I think it's at least a form of emotional relief for them to know we are nearby to help. We know that they (passengers) are all doing well on that ship."

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The Russian ship has been stuck in the ice since Christmas morning, when it signaled the Australian Maritime Safety Authority for assistance.

Three ice breakers in the region, including the Snow Dragon, are braving blizzard conditions to come to its rescue.

The crew of the ship seemed to be faring well and were even able to update their blog as they awaited international assistance.

Geologist Chris Turney of the University of New South Wales has been posting regular video updates to Twitter: 

Here is CNN video about the stuck Antarctica cruise.