A ship which was used to rescue by helicopter 52 people from a trapped Antarctic ship has now found itself in need of rescue – after it got stuck in heavy ice.
Having not moved for several days while preparing to airlift the passengers, the Chinese-owned Snow Dragon is now wedged in ice.
The ship was used as a launch pad to pick up the passengers on Thursday, after they had spent nine days stranded. Their ship, the Akademik Shokalskiy, became wedged in ice on Christmas Eve as it was heading towards Antarctica.
After a lengthy operation to ferry passengers from the Akademik Shokalskiy to the awaiting Australian ship, the Aurora Austrialis, by helicopter, the Snow Dragon was due to leave the area.
But less than 24 hours later, it too was stuck in ice.
“It will attempt to manoeuvre through the ice when tidal conditions are most suitable, during the early hours of 4 January 2014,” said a statement from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, AMSA.
Greg Mortimer, one of three expedition leaders on the Akademik Shokalskiy, said it had been a “roller-coaster” rescue.
Speaking from the Australian ship, where all the passengers were recovering, he said: “I was immensely relieved for the people under my care.”
He added that he was “very sad” to leave behind the Russian vessel and its crew.