Eye On The World: Rescue Mission On Hold

Posted on: 9:50 pm, December 28, 2013, by

(CNN) — A Chinese ship trying to reach a trapped expedition vessel in Antarctica has turned back.

The icebreaker Xue Long, or Snow Dragon, was just six nautical miles away from the Russian-flagged vessel when the captain decided the ship could not get any closer, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said Saturday.

The Snow Dragon went back to open water and remains in the vicinity of the stuck ship, the Akademik Shokalskiy, to provide support, said Andrea Hayward-Maher, spokeswoman for the AMSA. The Chinese vessel has a helicopter on board that could assist in evacuation.

A French icebreaker was en route to assist, but AMSA called off that vessel’s mission at midday Saturday.

The rescue icebreakers were battling the planet’s coldest environment in trying to reach the stranded Russian-flagged ship, whose 74 researchers, crew and tourists remained in good condition despite being at a frozen standstill since Monday.

AMSA said another icebreaker, the Aurora Australis, was en route and was expected to arrive late Sunday.

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