Stranded Russian Vessel Free from Antarctic Ice

Antarctica Map

MOSCOW, January 7 (RIA Novosti) ­ A Russian ship stranded in the East Antarctic since Christmas managed to break free due to favorable weather conditions, the vessel’s owner said Tuesday.

The Akademik Shokalsky has left the ice trap and is currently speeding north at 7 knots, said Yury Volkov, the director of the Far Eastern Regional Hydrometeorological Research Institute.

The Russian icebreaker intended to assist the Chinese research vessel Xuelong (“Snow Dragon”), which came to its rescue earlier, the report said.

The Xuelong was itself trapped in the ice, but broke free around the same time as the Akademik Shokalsky, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported Tuesday.

The Chinese vessel earlier helped airlift 52 passengers of the Russian ship to the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis.

The Australian ship is already nearing the Australian research station Casey, where it will stop for refueling before heading to Tasmania, the Melbourne-based Herald Sun reported.

The Akademik Shokalsky was retracing the route of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition of 1911-1914. The trip cost $15,000 per person.