Passengers on board a Russian research ship are still anxiously awaiting rescue, nearly a week after being trapped in Antarctic ice.
The Chinese icebreaker Snow Dragon sent to free the vessel came within 11 kilometers of the stranded Russian ship on Saturday, but had to stop when thick ice blocked its progress.
Rescue now depends on an Australian icebreaker that should arrive at the site within hours.
If the Australian vessel fails to break through the 3-meter-thick ice, a helicopter on the Chinese ship could be used to evacuate the passengers on the trapped vessel.
The Russian ship is carrying 74 people, including an Australian research expedition, tourists and crew members. The ship became frozen in an ice flow near the South Pole on Tuesday. Officials say the vessel is not in danger of sinking.
In a video posted on Twitter Saturday, members of the Australian research team said they could see the Snow Dragon on the horizon.
The Russian ship, which left New Zealand on November 28, was trying to recreate Australian explorer Douglas Mawson's century-old voyage to Antarctica.