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Evacuation from Akademik Shokalsky to start soon - Russian captain

January 02, 2014, 10:51 UTC+3 SYDNEY
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SYDNEY, January 02, 10:21 /ITAR-TASS/. Evacuation of passengers from the Russian research ship Akademik Shokalsky, which is trapped in thick ice some 100 kilometres off Antarctica’s Adelie Land, will most probably begin shortly, the ship’s Captain Igor Kiselyov told Itar-Tass.

“A Chinese helicopter is here, they saw the lot, which may be used for the evacuation, and I believe we shall begin it soon,” the captain said.

The Akademik Shokalsky has 74 people aboard - a 22-strong Russian crew and 52 passengers, some of them researchers from the Australian Antarctic Expedition and others being accompanying travellers.

The crew will remain on board, and passengers will be evacuated.

Each cruise of the helicopter will last 45 or so minutes and the whole operation will thus last about 5 hours.

When Itar-Tass asked Captain Kiselyov why the crew of the Akademik Shokalsky had refused to evacuate, he said: “Nothing is threatening the ship and it’s functioning in the scheduled mode but we’ve found ourselves in the grips of ice.”

“We hope for a change of the direction of wind because we’d be able to get out of here independently,” Capt Kiselyov said. “Also, we hope to get assistance from the U.S. icebreaker Polar Star, which will cope with our ice without any problem.

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