Helicopter rescue in store for those trapped on ship near Antarctica

Passengers and crew stranded on a ship trapped in ice off Antarctica will have to be airlifted out by a Chinese helicopter, Russian authorities announced Monday.

The Russian MV Akademik Shokalskiy ship, which is carrying 74 people, including tourists and scientists, has been stuck since Christmas Eve.

"A decision has been reached to evacuate 52 passengers and four crew members by helicopter from China's Xue Long ship, should the weather allow," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement, according to News.com.au.

The announcement came after two icebreaker ships failed to reach the Akademik Shokalskiy.

Snow gusts and low visibility forced the Australian Aurora Australis ship to turn around Monday, despite being within 10 nautical miles of the Russian ship.

"Further attempts may be made by the vessel in due course to undertake the rescue once weather conditions improve,” the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said in a statement.

On Saturday, the Chinese icebreaker Snow Dragon abandoned its course after being unable to make it through the ice.

Despite being in freezing conditions, the passengers and crew are in high spirits.

"According to [the captain)] all the crew and other members of the expedition are in good health," the Russian ministry statement said, according to News.com.au. "Neither their lives nor safety are under threat."

The MV Akademik Shokalskiy departed New Zealand in late November on a journey hoping to follow the path of explorer Sir Douglas Mawson.

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