MOSCOW, December 27. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia’s embassy in Australia is keeping in touch with the captain of the Akademik Shokalsky research ship trapped in ice near Antarctica, Igor Kiselev, a spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry said on Friday.
“On December 24, the Akademik Shokalsky that was on a research mission in the D’Urville Sea near the Antarctic coast to the order from the Australian Antarctic expedition was caught in ice within the zone of control of the Australian sea rescue coordination centre,” the spokesman reminded. “The vessel is unable to move on. Onboard are 74 people, including 22 Russian crew members.”
“On the same day, the Australian sea rescue coordination centre sent the icebreakers Xuelong (China) and Aurora Australis (Australia) that happened to be in the area to help the ice-trapped Akademik Shokalsky,” the spokesman noted. “The first of them, China’s Xuelong, is expected to reach the site on December 28.”
“The Russian embassy in Australia is keeping in touch with the Australian authorities and with the Akademik Shokalsky’s captain Igor Kiselev, who reports that the crew and other members of the expedition are safe and sound. There is no threat to their lives and safety,” the spokesman added.
The research ship was nipped in ice some 180 kilometers off the Antarctic coast overnight to Wednesday. The expedition started from New Zealand at the end of November, and was due to end early in January. According to the captain, after being released from ice, the ship is to head for Australian-administrated Macquarie Island after which it will return back to New Zealand. The head of the Australian Antarctic expedition, Chris Turney, confirmed this, saying plans were to return to New Zealand on January 4 or 5.