Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha
Sydney: After more than a week of being trapped in Antarctic ice, finally some hope glimmered for the stranded passengers of the Russian research ship Akademik Shokalskiy as a Chinese helicopter ferried them safely to an Australian vessel.
All 52 passengers have been transported to Australian vessel Aurora australis, which will finally take them out of Antarctic waters, said reports.
The remaining four will be transported to the Australian ship soon.
Chris Turney, the scientist who is leading the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, thanked the Chinese helicopter and the Australian Antarctic Division for their safe rescue in a tweet.
— Chris Turney (@ProfChrisTurney) January 2, 2014
The much awaited rescue operation in Antarctica to salvage the research ship Akademik Shokalskiy began on Thursday after three earlier attempts to break the ice had failed.
Earlier in the day, the officials of Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)had said that the operation was not possible to begin today due to adverse ice conditions.
Leaving passengers on the Chinese ship is not a workable option and AMSA said it is "now likely the rescue will not go ahead today".
"The preferred and safest option at this stage is to ultimately transfer the passengers on to Aurora Australis," AMSA said.
The AMSA officials had said that the ice was preventing a smaller vessel from the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis from reaching Chinese icebreaker the Xue Long, which is nearer to the stranded ship.
The Russian research ship Akademik Shokalskiy, carrying 74 people - 52 passengers and 22 crew - got trapped in ice on Dec 24 on Christmas eve.
The rescue of the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy, that has been stuck since Christmas eve, has been earlier delayed thrice as three icebreakers were initially dispatched to try and crack their way through the thick ice surrounding the ship, but all failed.