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Chinese helicopter flies over stranded Russian ship in Antarctica

Sunday, December 29, 2013 - 01:15

Dec. 29 - A Chinese helicopter flew over a Russian ship, trapped in Antarctic sea-ice since Christmas Day, as icebreakers make their way to help the stranded vessel. Sarah Toms reports.

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A helicopter flies around the Russian ship to see if the Chinese icebreaker -- the Snow Dragon -- should launch another attempt to break through the ice. This scientific research ship has been trapped in dense ice off East Antarctica since Christmas Day. The organiser of the expedition Chris Turney said the Snow Dragon came within seven nautical miles of the Akademik Shokalskiy before stalling and being forced to return to the open sea. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR CHRIS TURNEY, AUSTRALIAN ANTARCTICA EXPEDITION ORGANISER SAYING: "The Chinese have just launched a helicopter to check out the waters and see just how far the sea-ice edge really is." A change in wind direction and slightly warmer temperatures have caused the ice to break and form pools of water. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said an Australian vessel -- the Aurora Australis -- was also en route in a renewed bid to free the ship. (SOUNDBITE) (English) AUSTRALIAN MARITIME SAFETY AUTHORITY SPOKESPERSON, LISA MARTIN SAYING: "And they are doing a bit of a reconnaissance around the area to see what the best route may be for the Aurora Australis to come through." Seventy-four scientists, tourists and crew are on the Shokalskiy. The vessel is being used by the Australasian Antarctic Expedition to follow the route explorer Douglas Mawson travelled a century ago.

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Chinese helicopter flies over stranded Russian ship in Antarctica

Sunday, December 29, 2013 - 01:15