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Antarctica air mission begins

Thursday, January 02, 2014 - 01:12

Jan. 1 - An operation begins in Antarctica to rescue passengers from the research vessel Akademik Shokalskiy, that's trapped in ice. Sarah Toms reports.

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A Chinese helicopter arrives close to the research ship, the Akademic Shokalskiy, which has been trapped in dense ice off East Antarctica since Christmas Eve. The helicopter brings in a crew to assess the landing situation to see if the rescue mission can go ahead. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PROFESSOR OF CLIMATE CHANGE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW SOUTH WALES CHRIS TURNEY SAYING: "We've just heard that the helicopter from the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long is heading over to check out our helipad just behind me. If all goes well we'll be off in about an hour's time." The rescue involves ferrying groups of passengers by helicopter to the Chinese icebreaker, the Snow Dragon or Xue Long. The airlift could take several hours, as several flights may be necessary to ferry all 52 passengers on board. They'll then be taken by a barge to the Australian icebreaker and supply ship the Aurora Australis. Several earlier rescue attempts failed because of the thick ice. But now the crew of the helicopter get out to check the landing site. The scientists are following the route explorer Douglas Mawson travelled a century ago and looking at how the environment has changed over the past 100 years.

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Antarctica air mission begins

Thursday, January 02, 2014 - 01:12