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Ice-nipped research ship has "routine working day", captain says

January 03, 2014, 9:03 UTC+3 SYDNEY

All 52 passengers on board were successfully evacuated on Thursday, while the crew of 22 Russian seamen remains on board

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SYDNEY, January 03, 8:56 /ITAR-TASS/. The ice-trapped research ship Akademik Shokalsky lives "a routine working day", its captain Igor Kiselyov told Tass on Friday.

All 52 passengers on board were successfully evacuated on Thursday, while the crew of 22 Russian seamen remains on board. "Nothing threatens the ship, we keep working and wait for the weather and ice situation to change, and then we can try to get out without assistance," the captain said. "We stay in constant touch with our Far Eastern scientific-research meteorological institute where an emergency operations centre was opened," Kiselyov continued. "People there also work actively," he added.

"There are more than enough foodstuffs on board, and we don’t have any problems with fuel either," he said. "We have about 180 tons of fuel at the moment, spending one ton a day. Some 50 tons will be needed to reach the nearest port," he explained.

Speaking about the ship’s life at the moment, he said "we have a four-hour shift, then an eight-hour rest after which a new shift begins". "The weather is fairly good today, the sun is shining and the temperature is plus five degrees Celsius". "Our five girls on board - a cook, waitresses and stewardesses, are planning a walk on the ice," he said.

Earlier, General Manager from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) John Young told Tass that nothing threatened the research vessel, but still there was a certain degree of risk. He said AMSA maintained constant contact with the trapped ship and closely followed the developments. He said if weather conditions improved, the ship could try to reach open water unassisted. However, other possible scenarios with the use of other countries’ Antarctic programs were considered, he added.

Fifty-two passengers — a group of scientists from the Australian Antarctic expedition and travelers accompanying them, were safely evacuated on Thursday by a helicopter based on a Chinese icebreaker, the Xue Long, which ferried them to the Australian Aurora Australis icebreaker.

The research trip was ice-trapped some 180 kilometers off the Antarctic coast on December 24. The expedition started from New Zealand at the end of November, and was due to end early in January.

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