An Australian icebreaker carrying the 52 passengers rescued from an icebound Russian research vessel is heading to port, after being told that its assistance was not needed by another stranded ship, the Chinese icebreaker Snow Dragon.
The Aurora Australis turned for home on Saturday, after the crew of the Snow Dragon said they were not in danger and had several week's worth of supplies.
A helicopter from the Chinese ship on Thursday airlifted to the Aurora Australis all the passengers from the Russian research ship, stuck in ice since December 24. But theSnow Dragon also became trapped.
Blizzard conditions had hampered the efforts to evacuate the passengers by helicopter after icebreakers from China, Australia and France failed to reach the Russian vessel.
The Akademik Shokalskiy has weeks of supplies and is in no danger of sinking while it and its crew wait for the ice to break up.
The Russian ship, which left New Zealand on November 28, was trying to recreate Australian explorer Douglas Mawson's century-old voyage to Antarctica.