Trapped ship passengers prepare ground for helicopter landing
Tuesday, December 31, 2013 - 00:39
Tourists and scientists aboard the trapped Russian ship prepare a landing space for a helicopter by stamping on the snow. Rough Cut (No reporter Narration).
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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION)
STORY: Tourists and scientists aboard a Russian ship trapped for eight days in ice off Antarctica on Tuesday (December 31) stomped on snow and ice, in order to prepare a landing space to allow a helicopter to land and rescue them.
"It's the 31st of December at 3 p.m.. We've just learned that the Aurora can't reach us, so we're preparing the helipad, by getting the team to stomp down on this snow and ice so that the Chinese helicopter from Snow Dragon can reach us, when the weather improves," said Chris Turney, a Professor of Climate Change at the University of New South Wales. He posted his videos on this YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/christurney/videos?view=46&shelf_id=6&tag_id=UCnXvYIsrfCW1t9zVCfih2_w.3.australasian-antarctic-expedition&sort=dd
The Akademik Shokalskiy, trapped since December 24 about 100 nautical miles east of a French Antarctic station, Dumont D'Urville, and about 1,500 nautical miles south of Tasmania, welcomes the New Year at 1100 GMT, two hours ahead of Sydney.
A helicopter on board a nearby Chinese icebreaker was on standby after an Australian icebreaker on Monday (December 30) failed to reach the ship, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said on Tuesday.
Rescuers planned to move all of the 52 passengers from the ship to the Chinese vessel, the Snow Dragon, with most crew expected to stay on the Russian ship, AMSA said.
The Chinese ship got within sight of the Akademik Shokalskiy on Saturday (December 28), but turned back after failing to break the ice, which was more than 3 metres (10 feet) deep in places.
Passengers will be transferred from the Snow Dragon to Australia's Antarctic supply ship, the Aurora Australis.
With 24 hours of daylight, passengers have been told the evacuation could start at any time.
Revelries were to be kept in check in case passengers and crew had to leave at any moment if the snow and wind cleared.
It was not possible to contact the ship immediately thanks to patchy communications in one of the coldest and remotest places on Earth, but the plan was for passengers to congregate in the bar and sing a song about their adventure.
While it has been impossible to break the pack ice outside, the ice has been broken on board with birthday celebrations, singing and art classes. There is enough fresh food on board for two weeks.
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