A Chinese helicopter has reached a
Russian ship stranded in Antarctica for nine days and is
beginning to pick up 52 passengers who spent Christmas and the
New Year trapped in ice, the expedition leader said on Thursday.
The helicopter from the Chinese icebreaker Snow Dragon will
take all the passengers from the ice-bound Akademik Shokalskiy
and transfer them to an Australian Antarctic supply ship, the
Chris Turney, the leader of the private expedition, said
conditions had improved enough to mount the rescue after days of
blizzards, fog and shifting sea ice.
"The Chinese helicopter has arrived @ the Shokalskiy. It's
100% we're off! A huge thanks to all," Turney posted on Twitter.
Television pictures showed the helicopter checking out a
makeshift landing pad on the ice then apparently picking up the
first group of 12 passengers.
The Russian ship left New Zealand on Nov. 28 to commemorate
the 100th anniversary of an Antarctic journey led by famed
Australian explorer Douglas Mawson.