All 52 passengers aboard a Russian research ship stuck in ice for over a week in Antarctica were airlifted to safety Thursday, after a rescue helicopter finally was able to land nearby.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said the passengers were evacuated from the Akademik Shokalskiy
, which has been stranded since Christmas Eve.
Chris Turney, one of the scientists on the ship, posted a message to Twitter saying the passengers reached a nearby Australian icebreaker ship "safe and sound."
The passengers - including scientists, tourists, and journalists - were airlifted 12 at a time to the Australian vessel, which they will now take on a weeks-long journey to land.
Blizzard conditions hampered previous attempts to evacuate the passengers by helicopter. Icebreaker ships from China, Australia, and France had also failed to reach the Russian vessel.
Seventy-four people were on board the Akademik Shokalskiy
, which has weeks of supplies and is in no danger of sinking. Most of the 22-member Russian crew are expected to stay behind and wait for the ice to break up naturally.
The Russian ship, which left New Zealand on November 28, was trying to recreate Australian explorer Douglas Mawson's century-old voyage to Antarctica.
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The MV Akademik Shokalskiy is pictured stranded in ice in Antarctica, Dec. 29, 2013.
A crew member of the MV Akademik Shokalskiy walks on the snow-covered aft deck of the stranded ship in the Antarctic, Dec. 29, 2013.
Barbara Tucker, a passenger aboard the MV Akademik Shokalskiy looks at an Adelie penguin walking by on the ice, Antarctica, Dec. 29, 2013.
A thin coat of snow covers the deck of the MV Akademik Shokalskiy, Antarctica, Dec. 29, 2013.
Nicole De Losa, a passenger on board the MV Akademik Shokalskiy, waves to a helicopter sent from the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long (Snow Dragon) to assess ice conditions, Antarctica, Dec. 29, 2013.
Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy is trapped in thick ice, 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart, Australia, Antarctica, Dec. 27, 2013.
People gather on the ice next to the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy which is trapped in thick ice, Antarctica, Dec. 27, 2013.
Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy is trapped in thick ice, East Antarctica, Dec. 27, 2013.
Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy is trapped in thick Antarctic ice 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart, Australia, Dec. 27, 2013.