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Passengers on Stranded Antarctic Ship Rescued

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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