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Research ship crew not to abandon the vessel in any case, shipmaster says

December 30, 2013, 13:05 UTC+3 SYDNEY
The first attempt by the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis to come to the aid of the ship proved unsuccessful
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© ITAR-TASS/Vladimir Smirnov

SYDNEY, December 30. /ITAR-TASS/. The members of the crew of the Akademik Shokalsky Russian reseatch ship will "stay on board in any development of events", shipmaster Igor Kiselyov told Itar-Tass on Monday.

Kiselyov confirmed that the first attempt by the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis to come to the aid of the ship proved unsuccessful and it returned to ice-free water. "Very hard weather conditions have set in. Visibility is almost nil. We shall await an improvement of the weather. If wind subsides and visibility improves, the Australian icebreaker will able, probably, to find an optimum way (to the research ship)," Kiselyov said.

On board the ice-nipped research vessel, there are 74 people — a Russian crew (22 members) and 52 passengers — a group of scientists from the Australian Antarctic expedition and travelers accompanying them.

Lisa Martin, spokeswoman of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, told Itar-Tass that if the Aurora Australis fails to break through the ice to the Akademik Shokalsky, the passengers would be evacuated to safety, weather permitting.

Kiselyov reaffirmed the possibility of such a development of events, specifying that most crewmembers would not abandon the ship. "We held a meeting to discuss the matter and decided that 17 crewmembers will stay aboard. I want to point out that they all are volunteers and they all will continue to work to a victorious end".

He added that, as far as he knows, the arrival of the American icebreaker Polar Star is under consideration. The icebreaker has already crossed the equator and is Sydney-bound. "I think that in two weeks, it may approach us. This is a real polar icebreaker and it will smash the ice around us one hundred percent", Kiselyov said.

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