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SYDNEY, January 07, 20:45 /ITAR-TASS/. The Russian ice-trapped research ship Akademik Shokalsky is making its way out through dense Antarctic ice on its own.
“The wind has finally changed its direction and an opening emerged in the ice, so we are slowly sailing in the northerly direction,” the ship’s captain, Igor Kiselev, told Itar-Tass on Tuesday. “We are moving at a slow pace, changing courses and speed. We have already covered more than 20 nautical miles. The weather is still bad, with thick fog and visibility of less than 500 metres. However we are moving among smaller, broken ice, so there’s progress!”
He added that China’s icebreaker Xue Long that had been caught nipped in the ice too also began to get out of the ice trap on its own. “We are now slightly more to the north than the Chinese ship. Possibly, it will catch up with us, so we will be able to follow it in the wake. If it does not happen, we will be getting out each by oneself,” Kiselev noted.
There were 74 people on board research vessel trapped in ice on December 25, including 22 members of the Russian crew and 52 passengers - a group of scientists from the Australian Antarctic expedition and travellers accompanying them.
The crew remained on the ship, while passengers, their luggage and research equipment were evacuated on January 2 and taken by the Australian Aurora Australis icebreaker. A helicopter from the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long was engaged in the evacuation operation.