Antarctic Ships Escape Ice on Own Before Polar Star Reaches Them

Tuesday, 07 Jan 2014 10:33 AM

By Newsmax Wires

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The stranded Russian research ship and the Chinese icebreaker sent to free it both escaped the Antarctic ice fields on their own on Tuesday, according to Russian news media, before a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker reached them.

The heavy icebreaker Polar Star left Australia for Antarctica on Sunday to rescue more than 120 crew members aboard the two ships trapped in pack ice near the frozen continent's eastern edge.

The Xue Long, or Snow Dragon, reported becoming trapped on Friday, a day after its helicopter rescued 52 scientists, journalists, and tourists on board the Russian Akademik Shokalskiy, which got into trouble on Christmas Eve. They were then transferred to an Australian icebreaker to take them home, according to The Associated Press.

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The official Xinhua News Agency reported from the Xue Long that it successfully escaped after making a 100-degree turn and pushing away the ice, thereby splitting it and opening up a channel of water.

Russia's state news agency ITAR-Tass reported that the Russian ship, with its crew who had stayed on board, was making its way out of the dense ice on its own.

"We are sailing at low speed, changing courses," ship captain Igor Kiselyov said, according to Itar-Tass news agency. "We've traveled 20 miles so far. It's difficult so far, with dense fog and visibility no further than 500 meters. But the ice is thinner and broken here, so we're moving."

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