A second icebreaker Monday moved within 11 nautical miles from a research ship that became stuck in Antarctica by flowing ice packs.
The Akademik Shokalskiy became struck in the ice Dec. 24 when heavy winds pushed loose ice against the ship near Cape de la Motte, about 1,700 miles south of Tasmania, according to the New York Times.
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The ship is carrying the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, a group of scientists and tourists who are studying changes in the East Antarctica environment 100 years after the area was first explored.
The first icebreaker, the Chinese Xue Long, tried to reach the Australian ship but thick ice prevented it continuing its effort on Saturday. The second icebreaker, theAustralis, from Australia, is slowing, closing in on the vessel.
"We’ve been in contact with them and we can see them," Chris Turney, a leader of the research expedition, told the New York Times.
NBC News reported
that China's Snow Dragon ship sent a helicopter Sunday over the Shokalskiy, a Russian-flagged ship, to assess the ice condition.
Turney, who is a professor of climate change at the University of New South Wales, said that a helicopter is available for an air rescue if needed. The Australis would take the researchers to Casey Station, a base run by the Australian Antarctic Division.
"We've warned everyone on board that that's a possibility," Turney told The Times.
Turney said that researchers have left the ship to observe the ice and study birds in the area. The researchers have also watched a lot of movies.
"At first, people were starting to watch disaster movies," Turney said. "But I had to stop that."
Turney said that comedies and television series "Breaking Bad" have been a hit among the researchers.
Turney and other researchers have used Twitter and other social media outlets to give hour-by-hour updates on their condition and research, sometimes sending photos of the area.
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