The MV Akademik Shokalskiy became stranded in an Antarctic ice pack on December 24. Although several rescue efforts were halted due to inclement weather, all 52 passengers are now off the ship. The passengers were transported to an Australian supply ship via helicopter.
Throughout the last week, three different icebreakers attempted to rescue the passengers. Unfortunately, the Australian, Chinese, and French icebreakers were unable to reach the ship. Crews from a Chinese icebreaker eventually decided to complete the rescue operation with helicopters.
The rescue team began the evacuation on Thursday evening, Within four hours, all 52 passengers were safely aboard the Aurora Australis. The supply ship will first travel to Australia’s Casey Antarctic base for fuel and supplies. It will then continue the journey to Tasmania. The trip is expected to take several weeks.
As reported by DW, all 22 crew members will remain on the Akademik Shokalskiy. Although the ship is stranded, it is not damaged. The ship reportedly has enough supplies to sustain the crew for several weeks.
The Akademik Shokalskiy was on an Australasian Antarctic Expedition. The passengers included numerous scientists who were researching the impact of climate change. The trip began on November 27 and was scheduled to end on January 4. However, several weeks into the expedition the ship became stranded.
Chris Turney, who led one of the research teams, reported that the ice surrounding the ship was up to 10 feet thick. The depth of the ice, combined with strong winds and snow, made rescue impossible for more than a week.
Officials said none of the passengers were harmed while they were stranded or during the rescue operation.
CNN reports that the Akademik Shokalskiy crew will remain with the ship until it can be moved into open water and returned to the shore. The ship’s captain said they have enough food and supplies to last “a very long time.”